THE recognition and legal rights of trans and gender diverse Australians were brought up during a recent public hearing in Melbourne around the Senate’s inquiry into marriage equality.

Late last year the government released a draft marriage equality bill that would allow same-sex couples to be refused service by civil celebrants, faith-owned businesses, and other service providers on religious grounds.

In response, a Senate inquiry into the draft legislation was opened to public submissions, with public hearings commencing in cities around Australia this week.

During the public hearing in Melbourne, Executive Director of Transgender Victoria Sally Goldner said the theft of equality from trans people needed to end.

“Two long-standing Australian values are egalitarianism and a fair go,” she said.

“We are all born equal – but sadly and inappropriately, for trans and gender diverse people this equality has been taken away from us by others without consultation or consent.

“This theft needs to end, including in regard to the rights of trans and gender diverse people and marriage.”

Goldner also highlighted the classic 1997 Australian film The Castle to illustrate her point.

“The classic Australian film ‘The Castle’ talks about ‘people who love each other, who care for each other,’ and a home being ‘a place for the family to turn to.’ Spot on,” she said.

“Some strongly appear to originate from the more extreme place of constantly throwing up delays, diversion tactics, and technicalities to try and delay or even stop marriage equality.

“To those with that approach we need to state firmly: tell ‘em they’re dreaming.”

In response to a question from Senator Louise Pratt, Goldner also highlighted an inherent contradiction within the draft bill when it comes to trans people.

“One of the contradictions in the bill is that if you’re a trans person who has a recognised gender reassignment and you’re marrying your opposite sex partner, the provisions in this law that would allow discrimination against you as a couple wouldn’t be applicable to you because your gender is recognised,” she said.

“But if you were seeking to marry someone whose gender identity wasn’t recognised by law you wouldn’t be protected.

“It creates a total lack of equality and creates two classes of trans people.

“It wouldn’t add to the mental health or well-being, it would be highly detrimental.”

Co-convenor of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL), Dale Park, said the lobby believes the draft marriage equality bill should be renamed to be more inclusive or trans and gender diverse Australians.

“We recommend the title be changed from ‘same-sex’ to ensure it accommodates trans and gender diverse people,” he said.

He also spoke about the contradiction raised by Marlowe.

“The issue with establishing two sets of trans person is a complete failing of the current legislation,” he said.

During Sydney’s public hearing peak legal bodies and civil marriage celebrants told the Senate there was no need to include religious exemptions in the bill.


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