Rainbow Futures calls on WA government to take action on law reforms

Rainbow Future have called on the McGowan Government to take more action in the area of LGBTIQA+ law reform and health support.

In an opinion piece published in The West Australian on Tuesday, Misty Farquhar, the organisation’s President, said while they welcomed the government’s recently announced commitment to banning conversion therapy and plans to update the Equal Opportunities Act, there was much more the government could be doing to bring WA into line with other Australian states.

“Transgender people in WA currently face cruel and unnecessary barriers to update their birth certificates to match their gender identity, or they simply do not have the option if they are non-binary.” Farquhar wrote, calling for the WA Gender Reassignment Board to be axed.

“Those who can have their gender legally recognised must apply to the Gender Reassignment Board and provide evidence from medical professionals, friends, and family to prove their gender. This archaic system, which has only ever existed in WA, creates an unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burden on trans people, as well as unnecessary costs to the broader community.

It’s clear to experts and the people who endure it that the Gender Reassignment Board should be abolished. The idea was suggested by the High Court more than a decade ago, and the current State Government has acknowledged its inappropriateness. Yet it continues.” Farquhar said.

It was recently revealed that the WA Gender Reassignment Board had stopped processing applications due to the resignation of its longstanding President. The situation has left those wanting to legally change their gender in a legal limbo.

While Attorney General John Quigley has committed to appointing a new President to the board as soon as possible, many are asking why the body still exists? The recent review of the Equal Opportunity Act conducted by the Law Reform Commission questioned if the board still needed to exist, and the Labor Party adopted a policy of removing the board when they were in opposition.

Since 2011 the board has been unable to insist that applications undergo gender reassignment surgery in order to change their legal documents. The rule change came about following a High Court challenge in 2011.

Another area Rainbow Futures highlighted was the treatment of intersex people in the medical system, especially when they are very young and unable to give voice to how they are treated by doctors, a practice which often leads to non-essential invasive medical procedures.

Farquhar said the McGowan Government’s approach to LGBTIQA+ issues and community support was best described as “piecemeal”.

“These big ticket items for the LGBTIQA+ communities are relatively easily fixed, and with a majority Government committed to making WA “a safer and fairer place for everyone”, it’s difficult to understand the delays. Government support for LGBTIQA+ issues and organisations, where it has occurred, has seemed to be disparate and piecemeal.”

During their first term the McGowan government developed an LGBTIQA+ Health Plan, but very few of the proposals in the plan have been developed, funded, or pursued, leaving community leaders to label it a roadmap to nowhere.

“Health services, as well as aged care and education, remain inconsistent in the provision of adequate and safe services for LGBTIQA+ communities. Current government officials have often refused to meet with LGBTIQA+ organisations and advocates that are already contributing to this important work, yet their involvement is vital to support the self-determination of some of society’s most marginalised people.” Farquhar said.

OIP Staff

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