(Blogmensgo, gay blog of April 29, 2019) On April 10, 2019, both houses of the Tasmanian parliament adopted in third reading a series of amendments to a 2018 law with the aim of making life easier for transgender, intersexual and non-binary people. In the future, these people should be able to determine their own gender identity and have it entered on their birth certificate without surgery, psychiatric treatment or a medical certificate. In just a few years, Tasmania has evolved from the most backward LGBT policy in Australia to the most progressive region on the continent – although much remains to be done.
A new and innovative law
The main innovation of this law concerns the administrative procedures for sex changes. Persons aged 16 and over can have their gender identity changed in their birth certificate, now by simple declaration and without the consent of their parents.
In the case of young people under the age of 16, especially intersex children, parents do not need to have a child’s gender indicated on the birth certificate. This gives them extra time before deciding on their gender.
Opponents of the law claim that the new law does not require the indication of the sex of a person on the birth certificate. But this decision is only a possibility, so that for most people nothing changes. There is therefore no obligation to issue gender-neutral birth certificates.
Tasmania: A homophobic state becomes socially progressive
In 1997, Tasmania was the last Australian state to decriminalize homosexual relations. Until 2000, even transvestism was a criminal offence: a man could not dress as a woman or a woman as a man.
The legislator then turned Tasmania into a gay-friendly pioneer: first a same-sex registered partnership was allowed and then even gay marriage. And in the postal referendum on gay marriage, Tasmania had the fourth highest density of opinions in favor of gay marriage: 63.6%, two points more than the national average.
Tasmania was also the first Australian state to abolish mandatory divorce of trans persons before gender reassignment. With the new law, it is now sufficient to change one’s sex on the birth certificate.
This radical change of opinion is all the more remarkable given that the Tasmanian government has always opposed the new provisions adopted by the legislator for the LGBT+ community. The text of the law adopted on April 10, 2019 is the result of a draft presented jointly by the Labor opposition and the Green Party, but rejected by the Tasmanian government.
Australia had already previously deleted the gender indication on driving licenses. Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia on 7 December 2017, there are no longer any valid grounds for registering a person’s gender in official documents because the main reason for this was precisely to prevent marriage between persons of the same sex.
Hope and vigilance
In Tasmania, however, much remains to be done before trans persons are recognized just like any other people.
The new law is supposed to enter into force 90 days after the vote or promulgation. However, the Tasmanian government now appears to intend a review of the new law in October 2019 during a legislative preparatory phase and under pretexts. It could then possibly be amended or repealed, although an official examination has already shown that the provisions adopted on April 10 are fine.
This means that although the Tasmanian parliament has just taken a big step forward (highly welcomed by interest groups such as Tasmanian Families for Trans Kids and Transforming Tasmania), the LGBTQI population should remain vigilant to prevent any setbacks.
Frank-S / MensGo