Calls for Tas Attorney-General to release advice on gender laws

Tasmanian LGBTIQ+ advocates have written to the state’s Attorney-General Elise Archer, calling for the public release of all advice received on Tasmania’s gender laws.

The calls come as a response to a report from The Australian, which reveals Attorney-General Archer received advice from conservative advocate Patrick Parkinson, after a resounding endorsement of the state’s gender laws from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute.

Equality Tasmania spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton says it is in the public interest for all advice the Government has received on this issue to be made public, and subject to proper scrutiny.

“The TLRI report on our ground-breaking gender laws, which found these laws to be well-drafted and very beneficial, has been made public, so any other advice on the laws should be made public as well,” Dr Burton said.

“If Elise Archer is determined to shop around until she finds advice that suits her, the least she can do is release the advice she receives.”

Last year Tasmania adopted some of the world’s most inclusive laws recognising transgender and gender diverse people, despite opposition from Attorney-General Archer. A subsequent TLRI report found the laws to be legally sound and to have none of the “unintended consequences” the Attorney-General predicted.

Dr Burton express specific concern over Patrick Parkinson, saying he has a record of alarmist responses to issues such as marriage equality and of manipulating data to support his views.

“In 2012, Patrick Parkinson wrote that allowing same-sex couples to marry would mean ‘we simply won’t know what marriage is any more’, which history has proven wrong.”

In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 24, 2012, Parkinson wrote;

“…changing the definition of marriage would come at a cost. A consequence of extending marriage to same-sex relationships is that there will be almost nothing left of the legal definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman for life to the exclusion of all others. Robbed of its distinctiveness, and detached from its cultural and religious roots, marriage as an institution is unlikely to retain its cultural importance and vitality. We simply won’t know what marriage is any more.”

“In 2011, he issued a report, commissioned by the anti-LGBTIQ Australian Christian Lobby, that claimed children are best off when raised by their biological parents,” Dr Burton continued.

The For Kids’ Sake report that was commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby, and issued by Parkinson in September 2011, claims that;

“if there is one major demographic change in western societies that can be linked to a large range of adverse consequences for many children and young people, it is the growth in the numbers of children who experience life in a family other than living with their two biological parents, at some point before the age of 15.’

‘…the most stable, safe and nurturing environment for children is when their parents are, and remain, married to one another.”

“This was touted by opponents of same-sex marriage and parenting, even though the research Parkinson cited did not back up his claim, and even though peer-reviewed research overwhelmingly shows children raised by same-sex couples do as well as other children,” Dr Burton said.

“Patrick Parkinson has previously skewed research findings to fit his conservative agenda, and our concern is that he has done the same on gender law reform.”

Patrick Parkinson also made headlines in 2018, when he was appointed Dean of the University of Queensland Law School.

Patrick Parkinson’s paper on Tasmania’s gender laws was rejected for publication by the University of Tasmania Law Review because of “substantive flaws” and “its handling of empirical data” according to senior UTas law lecturer and editorial advisor to the UTas Law Review, Peter Lawrence.

OIP Staff

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