Tasmania’s upper house has passed legislation containing major reforms around trans, gender diverse and intersex rights in the state.
After three days of contentious debate, the bill was passed late on Thursday evening, sending it back to the lower house for assent next week.
Advocates welcomed the news of the bill’s passage, saying they believe that assent for the legislation seems likely.
“I congratulate those Upper House members who put people before politics and who stood up for equality and inclusion,” said Transforming Tasmania spokesperson Martine Delaney.
“I also salute those transgender and gender diverse Tasmanians, and our families, who bravely told their heartfelt personal stories about why this reform matters.
“When historians come to write about how Tasmania adopted the best transgender laws in the nation, and the world, they will say the quietest voices spoke the loudest.”
The bill was originally designed the bring the state’s marriage laws in line with same-sex marriage laws, but the legislation has since been amended to introduce sweeping trans, gender diverse and intersex-related legal reforms.
Should it receive assent from the lower house, and the subsequent approval from the upper house, the legislation will remove the mandatory surgery requirement for changing gender on a birth certificate, instead allowing self-identification through a statutory declaration.
Young people between older than 16 will be able to change their gender marker without parental consent, but with appropriate counselling.
It will also provide people the option of removing gender markers from birth certificates, meaning parents of newborns will be allowed to leave gender off their child’s birth certificate.
This would also allow parents of intersex children to opt out of including gender on birth certificates, minimising the incentive for unnecessary surgery on infants.
Other amendments will prohibit hate speech and offensive language on the grounds of gender identity and intersex status, and it will remove the forced divorce requirement where a trans person would have to divorce their spouse in order to change their gender marker.
While other states and territories including South Australia and the Northern Territory have passed similar laws, advocates argue that Tasmania’s reforms, should they pass, will be the move comprehensive in Australia.
“It is clearly the will of the Parliament that these reforms pass, and I hope the Government respects this by allowing the lower house to debate and pass the upper house amendments as quickly as possible,” Delaney said.
Transforming Tasmania is now calling on the state’s Liberal government to permit a free vote on the legislation when it returns to the lower house, after a government spokesperson called the legislation “flawed”.
“After many months of intense public debate and consultation, and after three days of debate in the upper house, it’s fair to say this bill is one of the most scrutinised and robust in recent Tasmanian history,” said Delaney.
“Every ‘i’ has been dotted, every ‘t’ has been crossed, and every so-called ‘unintended consequence’ has been accounted for.
“We call on the state Liberal government to have a conscience vote on this reform just as it has on every LGBTI reform since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 90s.
“The Tasmanian Liberal Party voted according to its conscience on decriminalising homosexuality, same-sex parenting and marriage equality, so why not this bill too, given it is now one of the most robust bills the Parliament has considered in recent times?” Delaney said.