Tasmania’s Labor Party has stepped back from its commitment to support the removal of gender from birth certificates, now advocating for parental choice.
The party will now support the ability of parents to decline declaring a child’s gender on birth certificates, The Examiner reported.
But the reform has seen high-profile criticism in recent weeks; Scott Morrison labelled the proposal “nonsense” while Bill Shorten shot down the possibility that it would receive federal support.
“I see this as the best way to achieve the intent of the change which is to enhance the rights of transgender people,” said Labor justice spokesperson Ella Haddad.
Trans advocacy groups like Transforming Tasmania have been lobbying for the changes for months, arguing that the absence of gender on birth certificates is the simplest way to eliminate issues which arise from the need to alter identification.
Tasmania’s Liberal government has consistently opposed the reforms, with Transforming Tasmania spokesperson Roen Meijers slamming the government’s insistence on a further inquiry into the matter.
“Based on a report from the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner in 2016, political and community stakeholders have been working closely together for many months, are on the same page and have the same objectives,” Meijers said.
“There is strong resolve about removing discrimination against transgender and gender diverse people, and agreement about how to achieve this overdue reform.
“We urge the Government to stop trying to delay the reform and allow a conscience vote instead.”
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor labelled Labor’s shift a “breach of faith”.
Haddad said that Labor’s position would still allow parents to remove gender from birth certificates, and that changing gender marker later in life would be a simple administrative process no longer requiring invasive, sterilising surgery.
The change would also allow parents of intersex children to opt out of including gender on birth certificates, minimising the incentive for unnecessary surgery on infants.
Haddad told The Australian that Tasmanian Labor had consulted widely and decided that giving parents choice was the way to best deliver the reform.
The reforms supported by the Greens and lobbied for by Transforming Tasmania received support from Tasmanian women’s groups earlier this week, including the Women’s Legal Service, the Hobart Women’s Shelter, Women’s Health Tasmania and Engender Equality.
A previous version of this story used incorrect wording around surgery performed on intersex infants. This has since been updated.