Zempilas shows need for McGowan govt to update trans legislation

National lobby group just.equal, say the “offensive and ill-informed” comments about trans people by Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas are another example of why state governments need to update gender recognition and anti-discrimination laws.

Spokesperson for just.equal, Dr Charlie Burton, said WA had fallen behind other states in legally recognising the existence of transgender, gender-diverse and intersex people.

“The WA Government has not delivered on its previous commitment to progress law reform in this area and draft legislation seems to have been shelved.”

Dr Burton also said anti-discrimination protections under the WA Equal Opportunity Act did not fully cover transgender people.

“In order to be protected by ‘Gender History’ under WA anti-discrimination legislation, trans people must first undergo surgery and be issued with a ‘Gender Recognition Certificate.’ This is a clumsy, inadequate and terribly outdated approach to transgender laws.

“Amongst other things, it means that anti-discrimination protections do not exist for people who choose not to, or cannot, undertake surgery.”

The WA Labor party voted in favour of a motion calling for the WA Gender Reassignment Board to be axed back in 2017, though no action has been taken in the last three years.

In 2018, the WA Law Reform Commission released a discussion paper exploring an extensive review of the state’s legislation regarding recognition of a person’s sex, gender and intersex status.

The recommendations include removing the requirement for a person to have undertaken a medical procedure to have their gender recognised, allowing people over 12 able to apply for a certificate to affirm their gender (with parental permission), and allowing for a non-binary “X” gender marker on documentation.

“Legal recognition for the existence of trans people, and thorough protection from discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act, would help to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against trans and gender-diverse people in WA,” Dr Burton said.

just.equal have called on all states to address reform in this area and point to Tasmania as the gold standard to be adopted across the country.

“Tasmania’s legal framework for recognition and protections for trans, gender diverse and intersex people has helped to make Tasmania more accepting and means comments like those from Mayor Zempilas are far less likely to occur.”

OIP Staff

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