Advocates call for solidarity as PM supports anti-trans sports bill

LGBTQIA+ advocates have urged MPs and Senators to stand up for trans Australians, following comments from the Prime Minister supporting Senator Claire Chandler’s private member’s bill that seeks to exclude trans women from sport.

Speaking in the Senate earlier this month, Senator Chandler said she hoped her Sex Discrimination and Other Legislation Amendment (Save Women’s Sport) Bill 2022 would ensure that people assigned male or female at birth were kept separate on the sporting field.

Speaking to media today while campaigning in Tasmania, PM Scott Morrison said he is encouraging the Tasmanian Senator to pursue the amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act.

“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.”

Equality Tasmania’s Dr Charlie Burton warns that Senator Chandler’s bill would force trans folks to feel unequal and uncertain in the eyes of the law.

“In Tasmania, transgender women have been playing women’s sport and accessing women’s services for many years without any of the problems predicted by Senator Chandler,” Dr Burton said.

“Tasmanian sporting organisations have been actively seeking guidance on how to be more inclusive, not less, with strong support from the Tasmanian Liberal Government.”

“We reject attempts to sow fear and division about policies that have worked well and have made Tasmania a better place for everyone.”

Dr Burton has also criticised the Prime Minister for using trans and gender diverse Australians as a political football, citing this bill and the Religious Discrimination bill which now sits in limbo.

“We completely reject the cynical abuse of trans people as a weapon in the Prime Minister’s political and electoral game playing,” Dr Burton continued.

“Overwhelming public and parliamentary support for protecting young transgender people from discrimination during the religious discrimination debate gives us hope that the Prime Minister is completely out-of-step with a country that prides itself on a fair go for everyone.”

Tasmanian women will be holding a vigil in support of trans and gender diverse people in response to the PM’s declaration of support, with speeches from former Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks, veteran transgender equality advocate Martine Delaney, Labor’s Ella Haddad, Greens leader Cassy O’Connor and Dr Burton.

“Our aim is to show that Tasmania is an inclusive community that rejects the politics of fear and division,” Dr Burton said of the vigil.

“In particular, we want to show that Tasmanian women, cisgender and transgender, stand united behind the values of inclusion and equality.”

“Women are always stronger standing together rather than divided.”

National LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Equality Australia have also responded to the Prime Minister’s comments, urging the Senate to reject Senator Chandler’s bill.

“Sport should be for everyone – it builds community and supports individual and collective health and self-esteem”, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“That’s why teams around the country have included trans and gender diverse people for decades, working hard to ensure that every team member is treated with dignity and respect, and that everyone can play a fair game.”

Equality Australia point out that the Sex Discrimination Act already 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 is relevant.

The group also looks to the momentum of major sporting organisations, with eight peak sporting bodies committed to implementing policies and guidelines to support inclusion in sport for trans and gender diverse people.

“Senator Chandler’s bill is not just unnecessary, it’s cruel and divisive. 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”, Brown continued.

“This is completely unacceptable, particularly when this group of people already experience disproportionate levels of discrimination, marginalisation and social isolation.”

Polling conducted by YouGov for Equality Australia in July 2020 showed three in four (78%) people in Australia agree that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as others. The recent debate about protections for trans kids in religious schools is further evidence of this widespread support.

“We know the overwhelming majority of people in Australia believe that trans and gender diverse people deserve the same rights and protections as other Australians, a fact that the Prime Minister failed to understand when he refused to fulfil his promise to protect trans kids in religious schools during the Religious Discrimination Bill debate,” Brown added.

“What followed was an overwhelming outpouring of support, including from those in his own party who bravely crossed the floor in support of trans and gender diverse children.

“The Senate must act decisively and with the same conviction as their lower house colleagues by standing for the inclusion of trans kids and reject this bill in its entirety.”

OIP Staff

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