NSW Parliament calls for equality for transgender community

nsw parliament transgender rights trans equality alex greenwich
Photo: Alex Greenwich/Twitter

New South Wales MPs have passed a parliamentary motion supporting the state’s transgender community, in the face of harmful legislation from One Nation’s Mark Latham.

On Wednesday afternoon, members unanimously passed independent MPs Alex Greenwich’s motion. It called for “dignity, fairness, respect and equality” for all trans and gender diverse people.

It was in part responding to Latham’s proposed bill that would ban support for transgender students in schools.

“We urgently need to focus on the trans and gender diverse communities,” Greenwich told the parliament.

“[Their] basic health and welfare are overlooked and they are regularly subject to discrimination, stigma, isolation and exclusion.

“Trans and gender diverse communities have been under increased attack lately. This includes in this Parliament, where their very right to exist is the subject of discussion.”

Greenwich said trans people experience “significantly high rates of discrimination, harassment, bullying and stigma”.

“People who are transgender face battles every day in ways that most of us cannot imagine just to access employment, education, services and health care,” he said.

Greenwich said the resulting negative mental health outcomes “are not okay and cannot be ignored anymore”.

“To the trans and gender diverse and the non-binary folks in our communities I say: We see you, we hear you and we will do everything in our power to turn those statistics and health outcomes around,” he said.

“Despite the many barriers transgender people face, they continue to provide vital contributions to the community.”

He praised the “life-saving” work of LGBTIQ organisations such as The Gender Centre, ACON, Trans Pride Australia and others.

“They save lives and help people reach their best potential… but they are at capacity and cannot meet demand,” he said.

“These organisations need increased and guaranteed ongoing funding.”

Alex Greenwich calls for transgender birth certificate reform

In the motion, Alex Greenwich called for reform to remove “discriminatory barriers” affecting trans people.

For example, laws preventing trans people from updating their birth certificates without expensive and invasive affirmation surgeries.

“Most other States and Territories and, indeed, the Commonwealth have removed these archaic obligations,” he said.

“New South Wales should finally give trans and gender diverse people the security of a registered record to help them engage with employment, health and life like everyone else.”

Greenwich said the parliament has a responsibility to ensure everyone has access to health, services, education and employment.

“We must ensure everyone can fulfil their potential in the community,” he said.

“We also have the responsibility to protect them from attack for being who they are.”

Greenwich said the support for the motion sends “a clear message” NSW leaders and other parties don’t share Latham’s “harmful and outdated views”.

NSW government minister backs transgender equality motion

NSW Liberal MP Andrew Constance was among those to speak in support of Greenwich’s motion.

He said the surgical requirement in birth certificate laws was discrimination against trans people and out of step with federal law.

Constance said the issue “has not been fixed and must be fixed.”

“Discrimination is an appalling and fundamental breach of human rights,” he said.

“We have to work hard to stamp out the challenges besetting people across New South Wales.”

One Nation’s Mark Latham criticised for trans education bill

In August, Mark Latham introduced his Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill to NSW’s Upper House.

Latham tweeted the Bill is necessary to “protect children from sickos”. He told parliament he equates the “promotion of gender fluidity” with child abuse.

“The Parliament should legislate to defend the family unit and the biological science of gender,” he said.

However LGBTIQ advocates have blasted the Bill for “erasing” trans people. If passed, they warn it would ban all recognition of trans and gender diverse school students.

Teachers, counsellors and also other staff would face deregistration if they provide any support to trans students.

Equality Australia said the Bill violates schools’ legal obligations to educate students without discrimination.

Two petitions against Mark Latham’s bill have attracted thousands of signatures.

Mark Latham is One Nation’s leader in New South Wales. He was elected last March and has frequently targeted the trans community.

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