Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday endorsed Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler’s new bill that seeks to exclude trans women from single-sex sports – a move celebrated by conservative Christian groups and slammed by LGBTQI organisations. 

Trigger Warning: This story has details of transphobic statements and discusses a transphobic bill, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

The private member’s ‘Save Women’s Sports’ bill introduced in Parliament, has proposed an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act, to clarify that operation of single-sex sport on the basis of biological sex is not discriminatory.

 

 

“I support it, as Claire knows. I think it’s a terrific bill and I’ve given her great encouragement,” Morrison said, while campaigning in Tasmania for the marginal seat of Lyon. 

“Claire is a champion for women’s sport and I think she’s been right to raise these issues in the way that she has. Well done, Claire,” he added.

This comes weeks after Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill was indefinitely shelved in the Senate. Senator Chandler’s bill too, has very little chance of making any progress in the Parliament before the elections. 

Christian Lobby Lauds PM Morrison

The intended audience of the proposed bill –  conservative Christian organisations that had suffered a setback with the Religious Discrimination Bill – were quick to laud the Prime Minister.  

Family Voices Australia, in a mass email, urged its followers to send “a quick message of thanks to the Prime Minister for standing up to radical trans ideology.”

Another supporter of the Bill was the Australian Christian Lobby, which claimed without any basis that “professional sports women are increasingly being sidelined in their sport by biological men who identify as women.”

“With the Federal Election looming, ACL calls on both the Government and the Opposition to make their position clear regarding protecting women’s sport,” the Lobby said in a statement. 

Bill Sows Fear And Division

LGBTQI advocacy group Equality Tasmania slammed the Bill saying it was an attempt at sowing “fear and division”. 

“In the past few weeks the Prime Minister has shown a complete lack of empathy for trans and gender diverse Australians and now he is using us as a political football,” Dr Charlie Burton, spokesperson for Equality Tasmania, said in a statement. 

“We completely reject the cynical abuse of trans people as a weapon in the Prime Minister’s political and electoral game playing.”

“Overwhelming public and parliamentary support for protecting young transgender people from discrimination during the religious discrimination debate gives us hope that the Prime Minister is completely out-of-step with a country that prides itself on a fair go for everyone,” said Dr Burton. 

Unsafe And Unequal

Equality Tasmania pointed out that transgender women in the state have been playing women’s sport and accessing women’s facilities for many years without any problems. 

“Senator Chandler’s Bill would strip transgender people of the right to live as we are, casting us into an unequal, uncertain and unsafe status in the eyes of the law,” said Dr Burton, adding, “We reject attempts to sow fear and division about policies that have worked well and have made Tasmania a better place for everyone.”

According to national LGBTQI advocacy group Equality Australia, in 2020 eight peak sporting bodies had “committed to implementing policies and guidelines to support inclusion in sport for trans and gender diverse people.”

“Senator Chandler’s bill is not just unnecessary, it’s cruel and divisive. In offering his public support for this Bill, the Prime Minister is once again making the lives of trans and gender diverse kids the subject of political and media debate”, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.  

Equality Tasmania will hold a vigil against the Bill on Saturday, February 26, 2022, at Hobart Town Hall.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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