A newly formed group, that calls itself the Lesbian Action Group Melbourne, has applied to the Australian Human Rights Commission for a five-year exemption to organise a ‘Lesbians Born Female only’ event that excludes trans persons at the Victorian Pride Centre.
The application comes nine months after the Tasmanian Civil And Administrative Tribunal threw out an application filed by Launceston-based lesbian woman Jessica Hoyle to ban trans women from her Drag King events.
LAG said they wanted to organise a ‘Lesbians Born Female only’ event to celebrate International Lesbian Day at the Victorian Pride Centre in St Kilda on October 15, 2023.
Event Excludes Queer Persons
LAG applied for an exemption to invite only “Lesbians Born Females” and exclude “Heterosexual, Bisexual and Gay males, Heterosexual and Bisexual females, Transgender people and Queer plus people.”
The AHRC is empowered under Section 44 of the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 (Cth) to grant temporary exemptions for up to five years from the provisions of the anti-discrimination law. The LAG has relied on a similar exemption that was granted for the Lesbian Festival in 2004 that was subsequently revoked.
LAG said it was set up to promote and organise events for “lesbian born females “without the fear of being hauled before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, as we have in the past and told our exclusive lesbian born female events are illegal and having to cancel them”.
The group claimed that over the past two decades, they were able to “organise and hold private lesbian meetings and gatherings over these past 20 years to avoid any more challenges by the Transgender community”. The application then went on to allege that “lesbians who publicly speak out about Lesbian rights are also sacked from their jobs, ridiculed and threatened with all kinds of abuse.”
The AHRC has invited public submissions on the application via email to [email protected] by Tuesday, August 29, 2023.
Tasmania Says No To Discrimination
In November 2022, the Tasmanian Civil And Administrative Tribunal said that there was no justification to grant the exemption to discriminate against trans persons that was sought by Hoyle. In her application, Hoyle said that she wanted to organise Drag King events that would be open to “biological females”
“While the applicants may not wish to comply with Act and find aspects of its application to transgender and transsexual women irksome, particularly in the context of the event they would like to hold, that is not a sufficient justification for granting the exemption,” the TCAT said.
The tribunal said that many of the reasons to exclude trans persons “particularly those regarding paraphilias, patterns of criminality and nefarious motivations for attending female-only events were unsupported by empirical research or compelling evidence. The wider public interest in protecting the rights of all members of the community from discrimination and prohibited conduct would not be advanced by the Tribunal yielding to such arguments when considering the current application.”