Sexual Reassignment (Recognition Certificates) Amendment Bill


Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading. 

(Continued from 4 June 2014.) 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 20:36 ): I rise, having sought leave to conclude my comments on this bill, so I will be brief and refer members to the introduction that I made some months ago. I conclude this week with the knowledge that in the Parliament of New South Wales the Hon. Mehreen Faruqi, and in the Parliament of Tasmania the Hon. Nick McKim, my Greens’ colleagues, are both moving similar bills. So in South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania at the very least we are seeking to ensure that marriage equality takes another step forward. 

Some members will recall that this bill seeks to amend a part of the Sexual Reassignment Act 1988. Of course, I have also moved a bill to repeal the entire act, or at least to have a committee ensure that that act is scrutinised and brought up to speed. However, one particularly problematic part of this current act is that, if a person is married and they wish to undertake a process where they can apply for and be approved to have a gender reassignment recognition form, they have to not be married, which means that they are forced into divorce. 

One particular story has been provided to me to share with members tonight. This is the story of yet another person who was married for some time, who describes herself as a 56-year-old transgender woman who transitioned less than two years ago. She goes on to say: 

My marriage which was very happy, ended as a result of the stress imposed on it by my transition but my now separated wife and I have maintained a close supportive friendship. This was terribly hard on us both. A divorce will happen in time but doesn’t feel urgent at the moment. 

When I learned of the prohibition in the Sexual Reassignment Act on having my gender recognised without a divorce, it felt terrible. It was worse than the verbal abuse I get in the streets sometimes for being who I am. It felt like society was saying my gentle love for my dearest friend had no value and was wrong because of who I am. That provision seems so heartless. I just cannot comprehend who is protected by this or why any person should be made to choose between love, family and recognition of their self. It breaks my heart. 

Some members will recall that I mentioned that the New South Wales Human Rights Law Centre was investigating this issue to provide some advice. That advice is inconclusive, but I can put on record that, while some members might be concerned that this bill would allow for same-sex marriage, it does not. The bill is constitutional. The Marriage Act 1961 deals with the solemnisation of marriages in Australia, which only permits the marriage between a man and a woman. This bill before us in this council has no impact on this.

The Marriage Act is not concerned with what happens between a couple after that solemnisation. Indeed, the real injustice here is what a happily married couple is put through should one of the members of that partnership wish to be recognised for the person they are. With those few words, I commend the bill to the council and look forward to further debate on this and also my repeal bill overall. 

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins.

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