Queensland MPs slam Rob Katter’s gender laws

Rob Katter Katter's Australian Party Gender Neutral language queensland parliament legislation
Photo: Katter's Australia Party/Facebook

Queensland MPs have slammed proposed legislation from Katter’s Australian Party to protect the use of gender-specific language.

The party’s state leader Rob Katter introduced the Bill in 2018. It finally came up for debate earlier this week and was met with a scathing response from MPs.

Katter said the Bill sought to “protect an individual’s right to use traditional gender-based language” and refuse gender-neutral terms.

He said it would also “pre-emptively” protect businesses from hypothetical persecution for providing gendered facilities.

In 2018, Katter claimed the Bill was a response to “attacks against traditional values” from a “minority infecting our accepted way of life.”

“I believe ever since the [same-sex marriage debate] there has been an implied blank cheque to attack many other cultural norms that exist,” he said.

“The aggressive push away from classifications of gender based on an individual’s natural sex is undermining many traditional values.

“At some point we must draw a line in the sand and protect the values of those who wish to uphold or maintain those values.”

However on Tuesday, the Labor government, the LNP and the Greens all opposed the Bill, preventing its passage.

Katter laws would protect ‘deliberate and persistent’ misgendering

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath slammed Katter for trying to pass the Bill primarily to “start discussion” but without “compelling evidence of injustice and discrimination”.

“Protecting the use of gender-specific language isn’t something that has been raised with the Queensland Human Rights Commission,” she said.

“I would invite supporters of this bill to specifically articulate what it is they want to be able to say that they cannot say now.”

However, D’Ath told the parliament the bill would negatively impact transgender, gender diverse and intersex Queenslanders.

“The bill would protect deliberate and persistent misgendering of a person,” she said.

“[This] is something that could cause significant harm to a vulnerable group the Anti-Discrimination Act seeks to protect.”

Greens MP Michael Berkman said the Bill “presumes we should protect the right to inflict harm rather than protecting people from harm.”

Berkman read out comments he’d received from trans and gender diverse constituents “directly affected” by the proposed laws.

“Non-binary, transgender and gender diverse people live all over Queensland,” he said.

“This parliament should be working to represent and support all of its constituents.

“Not to embolden those who would marginalise others. I am sorry to say that that is exactly what this bill would do.”

LNP MP David Janetzski said the party “acknowledged [the Katter Party’s] concerns” but wouldn’t support the Bill.

“Governments, wherever they may be, should be encouraging more freedom, not more law,” Janetzski said.

“Quiet Queenslanders know instinctively whenever legislatures get involved in what its citizens can and cannot say, it guarantees bad law [and] less freedom.”

Deliberate misgendering is harmful

A parliamentary committee earlier also recommended MPs reject the Katter’s Australia Party gendered language bill.

The Caxton Legal Centre wrote in a submission to the committee the legislation wants to make “use of gender specific language” a “protected attribute”.

But those in society “who wish to use gender-specific language do not have any particular vulnerability requiring protection.”

“The promotion of such a ‘right’ is likely to expose [transgender, gender diverse or intersex people] to increased discrimination,” the submission read.

“In our experience, the use of gendered language (such as pronouns), which does not accord with the gender identity of transgender and gender diverse people is a persistent feature in many of their lives.

“The inadvertent use of an incorrect gender pronoun will not amount to unlawful discrimination.

“However, deliberate and persistent misgendering of a transgender or gender diverse person causes significant harm.”

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