You are here


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

Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 20 November 2018, Cassy O'Connor MP


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 Tasmanians.

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.