The same-sex marriage legislation will finally put an end to cruel laws forcing married transgender Australians to divorce if they want their birth certificate changed to reflect their gender identity.
Under Queensland law, couples who get an opposite-sex marriage before one partner transitions are forced to divorce before the transgender partner can change their birth certificate.
All states and territories except the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia require such divorces, and Queensland campaigners and the United Nations have urged state governments to scrap the requirement.
Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s same-sex marriage bill, which is expected to pass its final House of Representatives vote later today, specifically addresses the forced divorces with a change to the Sex Discrimination Act that would prevent state and territory governments from refusing to change birth certificates.
“Under most state and territory laws, some individuals who entered into marriage in their previous sex or gender are faced with a choice between divorcing their spouse in order to obtain records reflecting their gender identity, or not having these records,” the bill’s explanatory notes read.
The requirement for the divorce is “based on an apparent concern that doing so may be facilitating, or be seen to be facilitating, a same-sex marriage,” the notes read.
“With the legalisation of same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage can no longer be a basis for states and territories continuing to require a person to be unmarried to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate.”
The same-sex marriage bill will give 12 months “to provide states and territories with such laws with an opportunity to amend their legislation, and associated policies and procedures, to allow people who are married to change the sex marker on their official records.”