Married trans and gender diverse people in Victoria and New South Wales will soon be able to legally change their sex without being forced to divorce.
Victoria passed legislation on Tuesday night that will allow married people to correct the sex on their birth certificate, and New South Wales introduced similar legislation yesterday.
“It’s unacceptable that some trans and gender diverse people are still waiting for full marriage equality,” said Anna Brown of the Human Rights Law Centre.
“The community has shown their support for marriage equality, it’s time our laws did as well.
“All governments must follow Victoria’s lead and reform outdated birth certificate laws so trans and gender diverse people can live with dignity.”
Lauren Foy, co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, said the legal changes around forced divorce will improve the lives of trans people.
“These reforms once passed will have a significant positive impact on the everyday lives transgender people living in NSW,” they said.
“United as advocates and allies in NSW, we have worked closely with all members of parliament to advance the rights of our members, inclusive of transgender, gender diverse, and intersex people in NSW.
“We congratulate the Berejiklian government on their strong commitment to equality for all people in NSW and will continue to welcome legislative advances that promote the autonomy, dignity, and respect that all LGBTI deserve.”
Foy added that further changes are needed to remove unfair laws that affect trans people.
“We ask that government continue to consult with transgender, gender diverse, and intersex people in NSW and LGBTI organisations about further amendments to the Births Death and Marriages Act,” they said.
“We recognise that the progress in social justice and law reform for some of us is just the beginning and that we have a responsibility to make sure no one is left behind.”
Liberal MP Don Harwin agreed that more reform is needed, including removing the requirement in most states for trans people to undergo sterilising surgery before changing their legal sex.
“The NSW government is updating state laws following the historic achievement of marriage equality,” Harwin said.
“Importantly these changes include removing the unmarried requirement for people transitioning sex or gender. Up until now, couples have cruelly and unfairly had to face the prospect of divorce when one partner transitions sex or gender.
“The Australian people voted for equality, fairness and the removal of discrimination, and these changes are in line with that strong mandate.
“More still needs to be done to support the trans community, including removing the need for forced surgical intervention before a person can update their identity documents including birth certificates.”
States and territories were given 12 months to change their laws in accordance with federal marriage equality when it was passed in December.
A bill is currently before Queensland parliament, and South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had already changed their laws before December.