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Justice And Related Legislation (Marriage Amendments) Bill 2018 - Second Reading

20 November 2018

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, of course we 
support the move to ensure that the amendments which we have prepared 
along with Labor and the transgender community in Tasmania, must be 
debated today. Today is the International Day of Transgender Remembrance 
as Ms Standen outlined in her extraordinary contribution this morning. 
Every single day that as legislators we do not deal with the issues which 
we will debate today because there is a strong resolve on this side of the 
House to ensure that we improve this legislation, every single day we 
delay dealing with the fairness and in fact the cruelty in the Births 
Deaths and Marriages Act is another day that transgender people and 
intersex people in Tasmania will suffer. 

We know that life for transgender and intersex people can be 
extraordinarily hard. You can face discrimination, vilification, 
transphobia. The International Day of Transgender Remembrance reminds us 
that you can be shot, stabbed, beaten to death simply for being who you 
are in a society that does not accept you for who you are. I agree with 
Ms Haddad that the bill prepared by the Government contains some 
significant changes which were not consulted, for example, the removal of 
the terms 'mother' and 'father' were not consulted on. In between issuing 
vile media releases Ms Archer needs to explain to people who are concerned 
about those changes and why they were made. Why can't we put 'mother, 
father, parent', for example.

As the first law officer of this state, Ms Archer, you have not covered 
yourself in glory here at all. Ultimately the Greens are determined to 
make sure that no transgender person has to undergo invasive surgery just 
to demonstrate to an authority that they are who they are. For the 
Government not to take the opportunity while we are working into the 
Births, Deaths and Marriages Act to at least deal with those provisions in 
4A of the principal act that require a transgender person to have 
undergone reproductive surgery in order to prove to Births, Deaths and 
Marriages that they are who they who, that is a disgrace. It is mealy-
mouthed, it is mean and it is one of the things at the very least they 
could have done in the bill. If they could not have gone as far as making 
sure we ended discrimination in birth certificates and the register, at 
the very least knowing what they know they could have dealt with the 
surgical provisions.

I have a statement here, which I feel very strongly about, to read into 
Hansard from Martine Delaney who has been an outstanding advocate for 
transgender people going back such a long time. Ms Haddad and I first met 
Martine when we were working with Duncan Kerr and if I do not finish it 
all in the short amount of time that I have then I will take it up again 
when I get to my feet.

Ms Archer - We are putting a procedural motion.

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes but it explains why there is an urgency about dealing 
with the issue today, former Madam Speaker, current first law officer of 
the land. Martine Delaney:

It is not hyperbole to say Tasmania's treatment of transgender and gender 
diverse people has been the worst of any Australian state or territory. 
Ours was the only jurisdiction to ever criminalise cross-dressing and has, 
by far, the most draconian requirements upon an individual seeking to 
change their birth certificate. Currently, even if it has been altered, a 
Tasmanian birth certificate still ensures a trans or gender diverse 
individual can face discrimination and an uphill battle while simply 
negotiating daily life in ways the average Tasmanian would never be forced 
to even consider.

In 2004 I personally began lobbying an ever-changing parade of  Attorneys-
General in an effort to have these discriminatory provisions reformed. I 
directly lobbied eight of the nine who have held this position. I was 
unable to secure a meeting with our current Premier during his brief 
tenure as Attorney-General. Throughout those 14 years each and every 
Attorney-General found reasons to avoid dealing with these issues, issues 
that continue to seriously affect the lives of trans and gender diverse 

In the lead-up to the 2006 state election before Premier Hodgman had 
become Opposition Leader I made an anti-discrimination complaint against a 
Scottsdale pig farmer who had authorised a series of political 
advertisements claiming recognition of transgender and intersex people's 
rights would 'destroy Tasmanian families and society'. As the complaint 
process played out two important facts were uncovered: firstly, the pig 
farmer was acting as a front man for the Exclusive Brethren sect. 
Secondly, the half page advertisements had been designed at and forwarded 
to newspapers from Liberal Party headquarters. Eventually my complaint 
was upheld. Subsequently the pig farmer publicly apologised for his 
actions. The Liberal Party did not.

Shortly before the 2010 state election Premier Hodgman as Opposition 
Leader asked to meet with me. At that meeting he assured me his party 
would not be involved in attacks on trans and gender diverse Tasmanians 
during the election campaign. Further, he gave me an undertaking to do 
what he could to make life easier, fairer for us should he lead the 
Government. It has been eight years since that meeting and nothing has 
changed, Mr Premier. 

Madam Speaker, how much time do I have left?

Madam SPEAKER - About one minute. 

Ms O'CONNOR - Ms Delaney continues:

Of course I am pleased to see the forced divorce provision removed from 
the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act. In the interests of a fair and just 
Tasmania, this should have occurred years ago. Sadly, the Government is 
only doing so now because federal law requires it, and the reality is that 
this amendment will only directly affect the handful of married 
individuals whose marriages survive the transitioning process. For every 
other trans and gender-diverse Tasmanian, the important issue, the one 
most damaging to their prospects of leading a normal life, is what appears 
on their birth certificate. 

The proposed amendments will make Tasmania a far fairer and more equitable 
place for its trans and gender-diverse communities without affecting the 
lives of other Tasmanians in any measurable way. They are supported by 
the extensive consultation and review process undertaken by the then anti-
discrimination commissioner, Robin Banks, during 2015-16. They are also 
in line with international human rights development and already exist in 
other parts of the world and they do what Premier Hodgman undertook to do 
as opposition leader eight years ago. 

Transforming Tasmania has met with Attorney-General, Elise Archer, on a 
number of occasions since May of this year. From the first meeting we 
have sought to engage positively with the Attorney-General to make these 
reforms work well. Months ago we provided her with draft amendments and 
offered to assist her agency with the process. It was only in September, 
after the Attorney-General refused to consider them, that Transforming 
Tasmania took the amendments to the Opposition and Greens parties. It had 
been our hope the Government would take these positive steps to really 
benefit trans and gender-diverse Tasmanians rather than doing no more than 
the bare minimum required by federal legislation.

I look forward to this debate on behalf of every transgender and intersex 
Tasmanian and their families.