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WA's Gender Reassignment Board is inactive again

Western Australia’s Gender Reassignment Board has become inactive once again following the resignation of its President Grantham Kitto. The prominent lawyer had been in the role for less than a year.

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Despite reports last year that the government had axed the outdated board it had continued to operate up until August this year, and Attorney General John Quigley is yet to introduce any legislation to fulfill Labor’s long-standing promise to remove the body.

In Western Australia people wishing to change their gender on their official paperwork must submit an application to the board. Many other states have removed their versions of the process opting instead for simpler paperwork process.

A spokesperson for the WA government said Kitto has resigned from his leadership role in late August and without a President the board was legally not permitted to make any decision.

“The then President of the Gender Reassignment Board wrote on 27 August 2023 to submit his resignation as of the following day. There are no other changes to the Board’s membership.

“Under the Gender Reassignment Act, the President needs to preside over all Board meeting proceedings.

“Arrangements are underway to fill the vacancy as a priority. Applications for the role are currently being considered.” the spokesperson said.

Government says reforms to Equal Opportunity Laws and Gender Reassignment Act are complex and will take time  

The Labor party committed to abolishing the body at its state conference in 2017, but despite being in government for six and half years has yet to take any significant action on the matter.

Over the years the Attorney General has given a variety of reasons why a timeline on reform in this area could not be provided including the cabinet deliberations, the Morrison federal government’s proposed religious discrimination laws, and more recently the outcomes of the parliamentary inquiry into the Esther Foundation.

In parliament earlier this week the government refused to give a timeline on reforms to both the Equal Opportunity Act and the Gender Recognition Act.

In 2002 the board ceased operating for a period of time after its previous chair resigned.

The spokesperson for the WA government told OUTinPerth that the Cook government remained committed to the proposed reforms, reiterating the point that the development of the legislation was complex. However, another factor has also been added to the reasons for the delays on reform – a federal review of anti-discrimination laws.

“The State Government is 100 per cent committed to new Equal Opportunity legislation, but it also needed to take into account a review of federal anti-discrimination laws that was now in progress.

“We are continuing to engage with stakeholders in relation to this important reform, as legislation is drafted.

“This is complex reform which is in line with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia’s recommendations.

“The Australian Law Reform Commission is also due to report in December in relation to federal anti-discrimination laws. The State Government will consider the report and the Federal Government’s response as drafting continues.” the spokesperson said.

The government said the legislation would be introduced into parliament “as soon as it is ready”.

“The Cook Government will introduce the equal opportunity legislation to Parliament as soon as it is ready.

“These social reforms will go a long way to promoting equality in Western Australia.”

Queer Liberation Boorloo announce protest action 

Local LGBTIQA+ rights group Queer Liberation Boorloo have announced they will stage a protest over the government’s inaction.

A spokesperson for the group said the government’s lack of action in law reform was “dire”.

“The Western Australian Labor government has refused to confirm a timeline for the passage of their promised reforms to the Gender Reassignment act, and the EqualityAct, as well as introducing bans on conversion therapy.” the group said.

“This situation is dire as failure to pass the legislation with Labors super majority runs a huge risk of conservative MP’s watering down the legislation and leaving us unprotected.”

“A number of organizations are engaging in lobbying, but we think there is a need to use a diversity of tactics, so that politicians know that it is the whole queer community calling forthese reforms, not just the ones who are talking to them.

“Public grass roots campaigning is vital to build public pressure on the government to pass this legislation while they have the chance.” the spokesperson said.

Graeme Watson 


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