Prime Minister Scott Morrison has slammed a federal Labor proposal to debate the removal of sex markers from birth certificates at its upcoming national conference.
Morrison tweeted on Wednesday that “a Liberal National Government will never remove gender from birth certificates, licenses and passports,” despite many states – including Morrison’s home state of New South Wales – already having removed the markers from driver licences.
“Who are Labor kidding? Get real,” he tweeted.
“This is the problem with Labor, obsessed with nonsense like removing gender from birth certificates rather than lower electricity prices, reducing tax for hard-working families and small businesses.”
Morrison took to Twitter to share and respond to a Daily Telegraph opinion piece describing a leaked final draft of Labor’s national policy platform – to be debated at their national conference in December – as “sinister identity politics”.
The platform states the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law, which advocates for the removal of sex markers from birth certificates, provides a “substantial guide” to government on LGBTIQ human rights obligations.
The document calls for a review of “documentation requirements, including passports and birth certificates, as they affect transgender and intersex people, to facilitate their equal enjoyment of human rights without discrimination and to promote identification options beyond binary male/female.”
The platform also calls for “proportionality in the use of sex and gender markers on official documents so that any presence of such markers fulfils a genuine and proportionate need” and “ensure all people with intersex variations are able to exercise autonomy regarding sex/gender markers.”
Earlier this month, it emerged Tasmania may become the first state to remove sex markers from birth certificates, with the backing of Tasmanian Labor and the Greens, though the state’s Liberal government does not support the move.
But federal Labor leader Bill Shorten said on Wednesday his government has “no plans” to remove sex markers from identification documents if elected.
“No, no… it’s nonsense, no plans to do that,” Shorten told The Australian.
“The relative number of people who are trans is about 1200 people in Australia. That’s about one in every 200,000.
“That’s important for them but I just wonder why conservatives get so obsessed by other people’s sexuality.”
Australian passports have offered an “X” option for “indeterminate” or “unspecified” gender since 2013.
Intersex people – close to 2 percent of the population – are born with characteristics that don’t fit the typical definitions of “female” or “male”, and physical variations in intersex people can include chromosomes, hormones and anatomy.
Human Rights Law Centre legal advocacy director Anna Brown tweeted that “sex and gender diversity is a reality in this country” and called for Morrison to “catch up”.
“Governments across Australia have already removed gender from driver’s licences,” she wrote.
“The [Commonwealth Government] has allowed people to describe themselves as ‘unspecified’ gender since 2013.”
Transforming Tasmania spokeswoman Martine Delaney said earlier this month that having the sex marker on their birth certificate posed problems for transgender people.
“This morning I received a copy of a birth certificate from the mother of a transgender girl, and she’s a teenager applying for casual work,” she said.
“Her birth certificate outs her as being born male and having a former male name.
“It serves no purpose and it simply causes problems.”
Delaney said it was an opportunity for Tasmania to lead the country on the issue and was not a radical change.
“It is not doing away with gender. That information would still be recorded by the registrar and medical records in the hospital,” she said.
“It just simply wouldn’t be displayed on the birth certificate.
“Tasmanian birth certificates used to include information about race but that was removed because it was irrelevant for most people and allowed discrimination against some.”