Western Australia’s lawmakers have removed requirements for transgender people in the state to get a divorce in order to change the gender marker on their birth certificate.

The changes have been hailed as a victory for campaigners, who have been lobbying the WA government to remove the requirements since 2017.

Legislation seeking to remove the forced divorce requirement was introduced in August 2018, with a number of other changes also under consideration.

A report tabled in December by the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia was tabled last December, recommending a raft of changes to improve LGBTI rights in the state.

“It’s fantastic to see the Western Australian Government taking steps to remove this discrimination against married trans and gender diverse people,” said Director of Legal Advocacy at Equality Australia Lee Carnie.

“No one should be forced to choose between being legally recognised for who they are, or staying married to the person they love,” Carnie said.

“For most people, updating your birth certificate is really simple. But for trans or gender diverse people, correcting the gender your birth certificate can be almost impossible.

“No one should be forced to live a lie or face daily problems when applying for a job, going to Centrelink or enrolling to study because of these outdated laws.”

Perth guitarist and trans woman Jaime Page welcomed the changes.

“On the wonderful day that same-sex marriage become law, I watched with pride as the public gallery celebrated,” Page said.

“To me it was one of the most touching scenes ever witnessed in Parliament, as divisions disintegrated and love was all around, barring a few isolated sad faces.

“But there was one other slightly sad face – me. After everything we did to get there, I was feeling left out, I was not equal, and neither were many of my sisters and brothers.

“We had a new challenge on our hands. We celebrated for the lesbian, gay and bisexual community and hoped for an early resolution to this anomaly.”

WA also last year moved to allow gay men access to altruistic surrogacy, though legislation is still before parliament, and introduced a historical gay convictions expungement scheme.

The forced divorce requirement was removed on the Legislative Council’s first sitting day on 2019.

Carnie said that there still steps the WA government needs to take to protect trans Western Australians.

“We urge the Western Australian Government to carefully consider the Law Reform Commission’s report and introduce laws removing the remaining discrimination against trans and gender diverse people on birth certificates,” Carnie said.

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