Intersex Tasmanians could be the first in the world to gain crucial legal protections against discrimination if an amendment bill in their Parliament is passed.
South Africa is the only country in the world to technically give intersex people legal protection from discimination but it is considered ineffective.
The Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2012, currently sitting in the Tasmanian Parliament, will explicitly give intersex people the same protections as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
The bill would also improve anti-discrimination rights for transgender people.
Tasmanian transgender people must currently make discrimination claims as ‘transsexuals’ but the new amendment would broaden the scope to include gender identity.
The bill follows recommendations from a 2009 review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998.
Organisation Intersex International Australia president Gina Wilson said the government’s proposals provided fully inclusive and explicit protection from discrimination for all intersex people.
“This is the first time this has occurred anywhere in the world, and I applaud the Tasmanian government for taking such a principled stand,” Wilson said.
Wilson rejected the suggestion that the proposed amendments could be used to add a third gender into society, since such a move would further marginalise intersex people.
Extra gender provisions were already available in some places in Australia such as some medical forms in Western Australia, Wilson said.
“What this law prevents people from doing is discriminating against somebody on the basis of physical sex characteristics when those characteristics are neither wholly male or wholly female,” Wilson told the Star Observer.
Wilson said there were a myriad of possibilities for discrimination on the basis of being intersex.
“If you have an extra X chromosone and they won’t give you insurance because you’re XXY, which means you’re not male, does than mean you have male insurance or female insurance?” Wilson used as an example.
“What if you have extra physical attributes, for instance, you might be female with testicles or partial testicles, does that mean you won’t qualify for certain medical tests on the basis of you’re regarded as a female and females don’t have testicles?”
Tasmanian transgender rights advocate Martine Delaney said she was proud Tasmania was leading the way.
“By using the broad and inclusive term ‘transgender’ and by creating the new grounds for discrimination, ‘gender identity’, the government is signalling to transgender people that it considers discrimination against us to be as serious as other forms of bias,” Delaney said.