Gender divorce win

A VESTIGIAL law that required transgender people to get divorced if they wanted to officially change their gender has been abolished by state parliament.

The law dates back to when same-sex marriage was banned and people had to get divorced if they wanted to get a gender recognition certificate.

Maylands MP Lisa Baker spoke on the bill in WA parliament last year, saying “members cannot possibly imagine what life must be like for people who have to go through a marriage or their lives having to deny either their gender, identity or love,” she said.

“We have already dealt with the marriage equality issue, but this is a much more endemic and personal issue. In some respects it is about how people identify as human beings at the most basic physical and cultural level.”

The bill was voted through the upper house on Tuesday February 12, just in time for Valentines Day, and was supported by the Liberal party, Labor, the Greens and the Nationals.

Greens North Metro MP Alison Xamon told the upper house the old rule was “hideous and abhorrent”.

She said “if two married people do not wish to get divorced, nothing ever makes it okay for the state to attempt to intervene and force a couple who wish to be married to be divorced”.

After the vote, Ms Xamon said there was more to be done in the fight for equality: “While I was very pleased to debate this important piece of legislation yesterday, transgender Western Australians are still faced with a myriad of unnecessary hurdles in order to have their gender identity officially recognised.

“There is also an immediate need to address the remaining legal barriers that still exist for the LGBTIQ [community] as a whole and serve to undermine people’s human rights.”

Her next step is an upcoming bill amendment which will repeal the Act that allows publicly-funded private religious schools to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ staff, students and parents.

In 2017 the South Coast Baptist College in Rockingham fired a teacher for being gay.

“It is all the more galling considering they receive taxpayer dollars,” Ms Xamon said. “We know that a lot of people would like to see the back of this terribly outdated provision and bring WA in line with the other states.”

by DAVID BELL

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