Historic transgender law reforms pass Tasmania’s Upper House

Transforming Tasmania transgender group
Photo: Transforming Tasmania

Landmark law reforms benefiting Tasmania’s transgender community have passed the state’s Upper House and are set to become law within days, advocates say.

The state’s Upper House finalised amendments to the landmark gender reforms on Thursday evening following a marathon three day debate.

The legislation will remove the requirement for surgery before gender on birth certificates can be amended and instead allow self-identification through a statutory declaration.

Trans and gender diverse people will be allowed the choice to remove gender markers from birth certificates, with parents given the option in the case of newborns.

Transgender advocates have applauded the reforms as the best in Australia and some of the best in the world.

Transforming Tasmania spokesperson Martine Delaney congratulated the Upper House members “who put people before politics and who stood up for equality and inclusion.”

“I also salute those transgender and gender diverse Tasmanians, and our families, who bravely told their heartfelt personal stories about why this reform matters,” she said.

“When historians come to write about how Tasmania adopted the best transgender laws in the nation, and the world, they will say the quietest voices spoke the loudest.”

Under the laws, transgender people who are married will no longer be required to divorce their partners before they can change the gender on their birth certificate, a legal leftover from when same-sex marriage was illegal.

Children aged 16 years or older will be able to apply to change their registered gender, or to include or remove gender information from the register, without parental approval but with counselling.

Protections against hate speech and offensive language on the grounds of gender identity and intersex status will also be enacted in Tasmanian law.

Legislation expected to pass final vote

The legislation has been opposed by the group Tasmanian Coalition for Kids, which was recently formed with the support of Hobart’s Catholic Archdiocese.

Liberal MLC Leonie Hiscutt said the government has “strong concerns about the unintended legal consequences” of the legislation which they said had been “introduced without public consultation.”

“Any reforms must be thoroughly considered by the independent Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) for full review,” she said.

“The TLRI review was instigated by the Government last year and is due to be completed in September. This review must be allowed to take its course and legislation should not be rushed through the Parliament while that review is underway.”

But independent MLC Ruth Forrest, who introduced Upper House amendments to the government’s original bill, said she had consulted widely on the legislation and it had undergone months of public and parliamentary debate.

The legislation originated in the Lower House and after it clears will return there for a final vote because of the amendments made to it by the Upper House.

Advocates are expecting the reforms to pass that vote as early as next week when the Lower House next sits.

“It is clearly the will of the Parliament that these reforms pass, and I hope the Government respects this by allowing the Lower House to debate and pass the Upper House amendments as quickly as possible,” Ms Delaney said.

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