web_Katy_GallagherThe ACT Government last week announced a proposed bill to address problems with documentation for trans and intersex people in the territory, though there are no details as yet on what the changes will mean.

The announcement was made by ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher as part of the government’s outline for the Spring legislative program, which included plans to legalise marriage equality in the absence of national legislation.

Details of the proposed Births Deaths and Marriages (Transgender) Amendment Bill 2013 are unclear, but they come in response to the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council’s report into the legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in the ACT, Beyond the Binary.

Released in March 2012, the report made a series of recommendations around legislative and policy changes to address problems with recognition. In a response to the report made almost a year later, the ACT Government accepted many of the recommendations, including two key issues.

“The Government said that they agreed the surgical requirement should be removed in order to change birth certificates, and they also said that they agreed that there should be a category other than male or female available for people to have listed on their birth certificate,” A Gender Agenda Executive Director Peter Hyndal told the Star Observer.

Hyndal said he was disappointed the much-needed changes to documentation laws for trans and intersex people have been overshadowed by the ongoing marriage equality debate.

“In terms of the surgical requirement there’s national and local and international agreement that that’s a pretty fundamental breach of human rights, and the government’s been aware of that here for 10 years…and yet here we are, a year after [Beyond the Binary] came out, and they’re prioritising a change to marriage,” Hyndal said.

Hyndal was also concerned at the wording in the ACT Government’s announcement, which would offer marriage to people living in the ACT who were ineligible to marry under the Federal Marriage Act.

“Symbolically and conceptually it makes sense, but for most trans people and most intersex people, the position is really unclear if they can get married at a Commonwealth level, and if they are married, whether that marriage would be determined as being valid,” Hyndal explained.

The Star Observer contacted the Chief Minister’s office for clarification on the content of the proposed Births Deaths and Marriages (Transgender) Amendment Bill 2013 but has not received a response at the time of writing.

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