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Births, Deaths and Marriages Act - Legislative Reform

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Tags: Gender Identity, Mental Health, Legislation


Are you aware of a comprehensive body of evidence pointing to alarmingly high suicide and self-harm rates amongst transgender adolescents as a result of the stigma and discrimination they face? Do you agree the law as it stands in Tasmania discriminates against transgender people, and this is why a majority of members across both houses of this parliament have voted to reform the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act? Have you ensured the amendment bill will be debated this week when it comes back from the other place to prevent further harm? Or can you confirm that extremists in your party room want to string out debate on the Births, Deaths and Marriages Amendment Bill for political purposes, pushing it as close as possible to the Legislative Council and federal elections in order to try to harm your political opponents? From here it looks like you are failing an already marginalised group of Tasmanians and the party you lead is prepared to exploit them for political purposes. How do you justify that?



Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I categorically reject the assertions and the implications contained within it. I am well aware of the tragic rates of suicide in our community. This Government has proposed and progressed a number of important reforms to ensure that vulnerable Tasmanians, whoever they may be, wherever they may be, are better supported. Our track record demonstrates our commitment.

This is legislation that has had many forms and has not yet even passed the third reading in the upper House so it would be presumptuous for the member who asks the question to presume or assume anything we may or may not do. We are the one party who cares about ensuring that the laws that this place passes are adequate, that they deliver positive outcomes, and that they do not have consequences that might be negative. It was well demonstrated that what was proposed by opposition parties was so off the mark and so risky that the Legislative Council has taken the drastic action they have to change it so significantly. It highlights that this is a complex area of law and there are many potential consequences of passing laws. Opposition members may be carefree about these matters, but it is important for this Government and the parliament to ensure that the laws we pass are positive in their outcome, not rushed, and are able to be scrutinised by experts.

Members opposite will claim to be experts in these areas. We sensibly suggested that the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute enquire into the proposed laws within a relatively short period of time. We want these matters to be properly and independently investigated. We have strong concerns about the impact that these laws will have. They will be debated in due course and I reject any suggestion that this Government is taking the action as described by the Leader of the Greens.