With parliament set to debate Labor and the Greens’ amendments to the Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage Amendments) Bill 2018 next week, Women Speak Tasmania wrote to Opposition leader, Rebecca White and Opposition Justice spokesperson, Ella Haddad, on Tuesday 13 November last requesting a meeting to discuss the proposed changes.

We briefly outlined our position, and asked Ms White and Ms Haddad if we could meet with them to talk about Labor’s policy and the amendments they intended to put forward.

We received a prompt response, outlining Labor’s policy in very general terms and confirming the party’s commitment to “the rights of LGBTI people”.

Unfortunately, despite Ms White hoping her response would provide “some clarification about the upcoming debate”, we are none the wiser about the detail of Labor’s proposed changes to the law.

And, it seems our request for a meeting was ignored.

We’ve met with Speaker, Sue Hickey, Legislative Council member, Ruth Forrest, and the Attorney-General, Elise Archer. All three have given us a very fair hearing.

It’s disappointing the sponsors of the proposed legislative reforms can’t do the same.

Given Ms White’s failure to advise the Tasmanian people about the proposed amendments and their effect, we reiterate most strongly our call for the matter to be referred to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute for proper legal analysis and community consultation.

Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker

Women Speak Tasmania is a network of women and their supporters based in Tasmania. We operate as a secular group. We are not aligned with any political party or ideology. We share research and information on a broad range of women’s rights issues. These include – female only spaces, services, groups and facilities; the sexualisation of girls and women; pornography/prostitution and the harms of the global sex trade; surrogacy as a violation of women’s human rights; and ending male violence against girls and women. We understand that sex-based oppression affects all women, and underlies all abuses of female rights. We support the right of women to speak freely about the inequities and discrimination they experience. We aim to give a voice to girls and women in the pursuit of justice, peace and security. We support full autonomy and personal freedom for all women.