Transgender and Intersex Law Reform

Today we added our voice to calls to reform laws that cause serious harm to transgender and intersex people. Let's put an end to state-sanction discrimination in NSW. 


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) [8.06 p.m.], by leave: I join the member for Summer Hill and the Attorney General in thanking the member for Sydney for bringing this matter of public importance to the House. I specifically acknowledge the importance of talking about reforms to laws affecting the trans and intersex communities. The LGBTI acronym is often used when talking about gender-diverse communities, and it is important to acknowledge that any law reform should recognise the specific and distinct needs of trans and intersex communities. One critical thing to remember in law reform is the impact these laws have on people's lives. That should be at the heart of any reforms. I have heard many heartbreaking stories from members of the trans and intersex communities. I have been told about the impact of laws on their lives and the community response to issues of discrimination in the form of transphobia and homophobia. People, especially young people, have faced trauma and distress as a result of existing laws.

I acknowledge that this matter is being discussed in the lead-up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance. I was honoured to participate in this event organised by the Gender Centre at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre last year, and I look forward to joining organisers this Friday to remember those who have passed away and those who have suffered as a result of discrimination and hostilities because they are trans. The Greens support a number of law reforms, including the end to surgical requirement and forced divorce. We hope to see reform of those requirements in the coming year. We believe there is a need to reform the Anti-Discrimination Act and to implement the 2013 Senate committee recommendations on intersex people.

It is important to recognise that these reforms will have a real impact on people's lives. Marriage equality should recognise that in certain circumstances the New South Wales Act requires people to be unmarried before they can change their sex. This puts many in the untenable situation of having to divorce their partner. The Greens Senator Janet Rice found herself in that situation with her long-term partner, which makes it an issue close to our party's heart. Members can read Senator Rice's amazing story in a recent Sydney Morning Herald article. I encourage law reform in this area, and look forward to some changes in 2016.


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