Northern Territory Moves To End ‘Forced Divorces’ For Transgender People


Transgender people in the Northern Territory would be able to stay married to their partners when they affirm their gender markers on their birth certificates under legislation introduced to the NT parliament.

The law, a leftover from when same-sex marriages were illegal, requires trans people to be unmarried before their birth certificate can be amended and essentially forces trans people to choose between a divorce or an accurate birth certificate.

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Rosalina Curtis (pictured) is a Central Arrernte Sistergirl from Alice Springs and she said she intends to affirm her gender as female on her NT birth certificate.

“I’m so excited that I might soon be able to be recognised as who I am on my birth certificate,” she said.

“Everyone has a choice, and everyone makes their own decisions. I should be able to make my own decisions for my life.”

Human Rights Law Centre’s Lee Carnie said the bill, introduced to the NT parliament on November 14, would also remove the need for surgical sterilisation, allowing parents of minors to apply and allow Territorians to be recognised as “non-binary”.

“No one should have to choose between staying married to the person they love, or being legally recognised for who they are,” Carnie said.

“A birth certificate is the first document a person has. It says who you are, and where you belong.

“When this important ID doesn’t match your identity it creates daily problems.

“It’s time to remove these outdated and discriminatory barriers for trans and gender diverse Territorians.”

All other state and territory governments have scrapped the so-called “forced divorce” requirement except for Tasmania and Western Australia, where bills addressing the issue are being debated in the respective state parliaments.

NT gay conviction expungement scheme begins

Last Wednesday, the Northern Territory’s expungement scheme for historical gay convictions came into effect.

Consensual homosexual sex was decriminalised in the Territory until 1984, but men who were charged prior to that still hold the criminal convictions on their records today, affecting their employment and travel.

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Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said the aim of the expungment scheme is to “address the historical impact of stigmatisation and discrimination” experienced by those found guilty of or charged with a homosexual offence.

The free scheme applies to charges or convictions recorded in the Territory, and applicants need to provide basic personal details and information about the convictions or charges to assist with the assessment process.

“There is scope in the legislation to allow authorised people to apply on behalf of a deceased person and for a legal guardian to apply on behalf of a person who is not able to do it themselves,” Fyles said.

Once expunged, records of the charge or conviction will not show up on a Police History Check.

To find out more about accessing the scheme, visit the NT Government’s website here.

(Photo courtesy of Human Rights Law Centre)