Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire for supporting a “cruel and divisive” push by a Liberal Senator to allow sports clubs to exclude transgender Australians from single-sex sports.
Speaking on Tuesday, Morrison said he thought Senator Claire Chandler’s contentious private member’s bill was “terrific” and he’d offered her “great encouragement”.
Senator Chandler introduced her “save women’s sports” bill to the Senate a fortnight ago.
She said the legislation would amend Australia’s Sex Discrimination Act to “clarify” that operating a single-sex sport on the basis of sex assigned at birth was not discriminatory.
The legislation aims to “ensure that organisers are not limited in their ability to operate single-sex sport by the threat of complaints of unlawful discrimination” and “ensure a male person is not entitled to demand inclusion into women’s sport on the basis of gender identity.”
Senator Chandler told the Senate that “under recent interpretations of the Sex Discrimination Act” clubs faced the risk of legal action “for offering single-sex women’s sport”.
“This interpretation has been used as a weapon to pressure sporting organisations to allow males to play women’s sport,” she said.
The bill is highly unlike to go up for debate in the parliament before the election.
But on the campaign trail on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared his support for the legislation, describing it as “terrific”.
“I support it, as Claire knows. I think it’s a terrific bill and I’ve given her great encouragement,” Morrison said.
“Claire is a champion for women’s sport and I think she’s been right to raise these issues in the way that she has. Well done, Claire.”
Bill is ‘cruel, divisive and unnecessary’
As recently as December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to protect students from discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.
Now equality advocates have slammed Morrison’s latest comments and Senator Chandler’s “cruel, divisive and unnecessary” bill.
Equality Tasmania’s Dr Charlie Burton said trans women have “played women’s sport and accessed women’s services for many years without the problems predicted by Chandler.”
“Tasmanian sporting organisations have actively sought guidance on how to be more inclusive, not less, with strong support from the Tasmanian Liberal government,” Burton said.
Dr Burton said the proposed bill would strip trans people of their “right to live as we are, casting us into an unequal, uncertain and unsafe status in the eyes of the law.”
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said for years, sporting groups have worked hard to include trans and gender diverse people and treat “every team member with dignity and respect.”
She said the Sex Discrimination Act currently allows for discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender identity or intersex status by excluding people from competing in sport, where strength, stamina and physique was relevant.
“Instead of considering how these exemptions could be narrowed, the Chandler bill would go further and for the first time allow discrimination against children under the age of 12 years,” she said.
“Senator Chandler’s bill is not just unnecessary, it’s cruel and divisive.”
“Claire is a champion for women’s sport”
Not true. If you search Hansard, the ONLY time Sen Chandler talks about women’s sport is to use it, to use us, to push an exclusionary and transphobic agenda.
This is not what #WomensSport is about.
This is not who we are.
— Danielle Warby (@DanielleWarby) February 22, 2022
Scott Morrison using trans people as ‘political football’
Anna Brown said if the Bill did come up for a vote, the Senate should “stand for the inclusion of trans kids by rejecting it in its entirety.”
“In offering his public support for this Bill, the Prime Minister is once again making the lives of trans and gender diverse kids the subject of political and media debate,” she said.
“This is completely unacceptable. Particularly when this group of people already experience disproportionate levels of discrimination, marginalisation and social isolation.”
Earlier this month, Scott Morrison’s ill-fated Religious Discrimination Bill was debated in the parliament.
Debate raged around legal exemptions that allow religious schools to discriminate against transgender students on the basis of faith.
Dr Charlie Burton slammed Scott Morrison for using transgender people as “a political football.”
“In the past few weeks the Prime Minister has shown a complete lack of empathy for trans and gender diverse Australians,” Dr Burton said.
“We completely reject the cynical abuse of trans people as a weapon in the Prime Minister’s political and electoral game playing.”
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