Queensland moves to remove transgender marriage discrimination

Queensland has become the first state to introduce legislation to remove discrimination against transgender people relating to the marriage act and gender recognition.

Yesterday the state’s Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath introduced the Birth, Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill into the Queensland parliament.

D’Ath said the bill was  an important and necessary amendment to ensure true marriage equality is realised for sex and gender diverse Queenslanders, and would remove the requirement for someone to wanting their gender identity to be amended to be single.

Queensland, like many Australian states, has a requirement that transgender people who want to have their gender amended from the one assigned at birth can not be married. The restriction was included in legislation to ensure that same-sex marriage did not occur when a one person in a marriage changed gender.

The requirement has left many transgender people unable to get formal recognition of their gender change because they did not want to divorce their spouse. Despite marriage equality being approved in December 2017, states have twelve months to bring other laws into line with the changes to federal marriage law.

D’Ath said the current laws were clearly discriminatory.

“Now that we finally have marriage equality, the Palaszczuk Labor government has acted quickly to ensure that Queenslanders who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery no longer have to divorce their partner to have their sex legally recognised. The current restriction imposed by section 22 is discriminatory and has caused significant anguish for many sex and gender diverse Queenslanders.

“It is unjust and unfair that some members of our community are forced to face the distressing decision of choosing between their marriage and the legal recognition of their gender identity.”

The bill has now moved to the next stage of the legislative process, a referral to the state’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee.

Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, welcomed the change saying that it would ensure equality for transgender Queenslanders and their families, but called also for further reform to ensure that trans, gender diverse and intersex people can live with dignity.

“Our communities, families, doctors and schools already support marriage equality, and it’s time our laws did as well. This is a small but significant change that will mean transgender people can be free to be who they are, while maintaining their commitment to the person they fell in love with,” Brown said.

Brown said it was time that Queensland followed other states and allowed people to change their gender without having surgery on their reproductive organs.

Brown also encouraged the state to bring in more gender descriptors beyond the current choices of male and female, arguing that people should be able to select their gender as non-binary or male/female.

“Transgender people face problems every day accessing services and facilities most Australians use without thinking twice, because their identity documents do not match their gender. We need a complete overhaul of these outdated laws to ensure, for example, that trans people do not have to undergo invasive and unnecessary surgeries simply to be recognised as the gender they live as,” Brown said.

Western Australia’s Attorney General, John Quigley,  has indicated he is favour of removing similar discrimination experienced by married transgender people applying to the state’s Gender Recognition Board.

The WA AG has asked the Western Australian Law Reform Commission to look into the issue.

OIP Staff

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