By ALLISON HORE
The lower house of the NSW parliament have voted unanimously in support of a motion calling for fair and equal treatment of transgender and gender diverse people across the state.
The motion was introduced before parliament on Wednesday by independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich. He said the motion recognises the ongoing discrimination that transgender and gender diverse people across the state face.
“Transphobia has no place in our society or Parliament,” said Mr. Greenwich.
“Today’s motion recognises that trans and gender diverse communities continue to face ongoing discrimination that not only contributes to isolation and poor mental health, but also impacts their health, mental health, welfare, income and access to services.”
Speaking in support of Mr. Greenwich’s motion were representatives of the Liberal party, Labor party and the Greens.
Liberal member of parliament, and Minister for Transport and Roads, Andrew Constance, said he was “pleased to support” Mr. Greenwich’s motion. He said the motion reinforces the need to make sure that people of diverse backgrounds and genders are not harmed by discriminatory policies. One such policy he highlighted was the disparity between the processes of changing gender on official documents on a federal and state level.
In 2014 the Abbott government introduced the self-identification process at a national level, which means that people applying for passports only need to self identify to change the gender marker on their document. However, at a state level there is still a surgical requirement for people to change their documentation, including birth, death and marriage certificates.
Mr. Constance said that such a requirement is “discrimination that should be rectified” and he will continue to push for the processes to be made consistent across a federal and state level.
“We will have to work hard to stamp out the challenges besetting people across not just the Sydney community but also more broadly across New South Wales,” he said.
Mr. Greenwich agreed that the parliament should remove these “archaic barriers” and said it must be made a priority if the parliament wishes to achieve equality for LGBTQIA+ Australians.
“We still have a long way to go and this includes removing the archaic barriers that force people to go through invasive, expensive, and often inappropriate gender affirmation surgery to obtain legal documents that reflect their true sex or gender identity,” he said.
This vote comes as NSW upper house representative for One Nation, Mark Latham, spruiks a set of proposed education reforms which activists have slammed as transphobic. If the legislation passes, teachers, counsellors and other school staff could face dismissal if they offered support or advice to transgender and gender diverse students. Parents would also be allowed to withdraw their children from any class where LGBTQIA+ issues were discussed.
When introducing the bill before parliament Mr. Latham said “promotion of gender fluidity” was akin to child abuse and “the Parliament should legislate to defend the family unit and the biological science of gender.”
But Mr. Greenwich says the unanimous lower house vote in support of transgender and gender diverse people shows Mr. Latham’s views are not representative of parliament as a whole.
“We have sent a clear message that the harmful and outdated views of One Nation’s Mark Latham, which are reflected in his proposed legislation, are not shared by the leaders and major parties that represent this state,” said Mr. Greenwich.