Senator Claire Chandler will not apologise for comments on trans women

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Claire Chandler says she will not be “withdrawing, retracting, modifying or apologising” for her comments on trans women in sport.

The statement comes as the politician has been called before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission after a complaint was lodged over an opinion piece published in a newspaper and subsequent email outlining her opposition to transgender women participating in sport.

“As I told the Senate on 3 September, the statement which the Commissioner has found to potentially be “prohibited conduct” was my comment that “women’s sports, women’s toilets and women’s changerooms are designed for people of the female sex (women) and should remain that way,” Senator Chandler said in the statement.

“If this sentence or any similar statements are deemed to be prohibited under Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act, the effect would be that it is unlawful in Tasmania to discuss the important public policy issue of safety and fairness in women’s sports – a ludicrous proposition which cannot be allowed to stand in a democracy.”

“The appropriate course of action for the Commissioner to now take is to dismiss this complaint as vexatious, trivial and without substance and stop trying to prevent Tasmanians from advocating for appropriate recognition of the realities of biological sex in sport and for appropriate access to sex-based facilities and services.”

LGBTIQ+ advocacy group Equality Tasmania have responded to the comments, urging Senator Chandler to come to the table for trans and gender diverse Tasmanians.

“We urge Senator Chandler to sit down and talk with transgender Tasmanians and our families and friends, including at the proposed conciliation session, so she can understand the damage that language can cause to vulnerable Tasmanians,” spokesperson Charlie Burton said.

“We strongly support free speech but we also want to see informed speech, so we hope Senator Chandler will attend the proposed conciliation and be open to hearing views about the human reality behind the public debate.”

“Senator Chandler is an elected representative, so why wouldn’t she avail herself of the chance to hear from her constituents?”

Earlier this week, Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson defended his Tasmanian colleague in an opinion piece for The Australian, arguing that the state’s anti-discrimination laws paved the “road to tyranny.”

Senator Paterson argues that section 17 is Australia’s “most restrictive anti-free speech law.”

“It prohibits “any conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules another person” on the basis of 14 different protected characteristics, including race, age, gender and sexuality. It is section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act on steroids,” Senator Paterson wrote.

Veteran LGBTIQ+ advocate Rodney Croome disputed Senator Paterson’s opinion, defending Tasmania’s strong anti-discrimination protections.

“By seeking to restrain the powerful from humiliating and intimidating the vulnerable, section 17 of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act is one of Australia’s most important laws against tyranny,” Croome said.

“Section 17 has repeatedly proven its utility, resolving many complaints of humiliation, most of which have been from people with disability. Because section 17 has fostered a more inclusive Tasmania, it has twice been upheld by State Parliament.”

OIP Staff

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