Women Speak Tasmania is calling for uniform changes to federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
All Australian legislatures must urgently address the need for accurate and effective definitions of “sex” and “gender identity” in anti-discrimination laws across Australia.
We must develop uniform laws in all Australian jurisdictions to remove confusion and to protect women.
Recent developments in gender identity protections have had a generally negative impact on women’s rights. Current sex-discrimination and anti-discrimination laws are unclear about how the new gender identity protections should interact with women’s rights under the same laws. Clarity is imperative if women’s sex-based rights are to be guaranteed.
That guarantee was broken recently in Canada when a female sexual assault victim was forced to share a room in a female-only accommodation facility with a man ‘self-identifying’ as a woman because the facility chose to be ‘inclusive’ –
In Tasmania, a newly formed group campaigning for transgender rights, Transforming Tasmania, is pressing for changes to birth registration laws that will allow the sex on a person’s birth certificate to be changed on the basis of self-identification alone, or removed altogether.
Women’s rights to single sex services, accommodation, educational institutions and sports teams, et cetera would clearly be under attack if self-identified transwomen were legally able to access them.
Given the far-reaching effects these proposed legal changes would have on women, families and the broader community, critical analysis and wide-ranging community consultation is vital, along with a thorough revamp of existing anti-discrimination laws.
Women Speak Tasmania supports the response of Woman’s Place UK to similar legislative proposals in the United Kingdom. Their simple demands were as follows –
‘1. Respectful and evidence-based discussion on the impact of proposed legislative changes. Women’s voices must be heard.
2. The principle of women-only spaces to be upheld and, where necessary, extended.
3. A review of how current sex-based exemptions in legislation are being applied to ensure women’s needs are met.
4. Government consultation with women’s organisations on how self-identification of sex would impact on women, and female-only services and spaces.
5. Government consultation on how self-identification of sex will impact data gathering and monitoring of sex-based discrimination.’
See – https://www.facebook.com/womansplaceuk/photos/a.534210166933174.1073741829.494295627591295/662192574134932/?type=3&theater (adapted).
Gender identity based protections must not be allowed to compromise women’s sex-based protections in law. Women need to assured of access to safe female-only spaces and services.
*Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker