Aussie Prime Minister Scott Morrison has slammed the Labor party and called on Bill Shorten to take urgent action after Tasmania’s lower house passed controversial reforms to make gender optional on birth certificates.
The proposals were backed on Tuesday by Labor and the Greens, before the Liberal’s Sue Hickey gave the casting vote – moving against her own party. It means moves to make gender an opt-in option on all birth certificates is now a step closer to becoming law in the state.
Shocked by the result, Morrison has called on Shorten to step in and bring the matter up at next month’s ALP national conference in order to outlaw it and prevent the reforms spreading beyond Tasmania.
He wrote on Twitter: “Labor’s plan to remove gender from birth certificates in Tasmania is ridiculous. Bill Shorten should step up and commit to put motion to ALP Federal Conference to outlaw it.”
Labor’s plan to remove gender from birth certificates in Tasmania is ridiculous. Bill Shorten should step up and commit to put motion to ALP Federal Conference to outlaw it.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 20, 2018
The drastic amendments would allow people over 16 to change the gender on their birth certificate simply by filling out a statutory declaration.
And it wasn’t the only controversial reform to move closer to becoming law, as the lower house also passed an amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination laws – extending hate speech to cover “gender expression” to ensure the correct use of transgender people’s names and honourifics.
It all came as part of a bill calling for trans people to no longer have to divorce before they can change their gender on official documents.
If the reforms are now passed by the upper house, it would be the first time any Australian authority has removed the need to state a baby’s gender on their official birth certificate, however their gender would still be recorded by the registrar and on all medical records.
Thanks to all for bravely supporting AU’s most progressive trans, gender diverse & ppl with variations of sex characteristics law reform in the House of Assembly today. A special thanks to @SueHickeyTas @EllaHaddadMP & @TasmanianLabor @CassyOConnorMP & @TasmanianGreens #Politas pic.twitter.com/aS2MlYlSlR
— Transforming Tasmania (@TransformingTas) November 20, 2018
Activism group Transforming Tasmania supported the lower house’s decision on Tuesday night, sharing a photo on Twitter of them celebrating together. Meanwhile, spokesperson Roen Meijers told The Guardian: “I applaud the Tasmanian lower house for providing greater equity, dignity and hope for transgender, gender diverse and intersex Tasmanians.”
While the move, if successful, would be a first in this country, other governments around the world have already made changes to the way they establish gender on birth certificates, including Germany which passed laws last year allowing parents to select a third, gender-neutral option, rather than just male or female.
The debate also comes two years after the ACT abolished gender specific terms for parents on birth certificates. The laws, passed in February 2016, allow parents to use the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ interchangeably. They were also given the option to select ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’.