Image for Women call for review to sex discrimination laws

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’ –

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/kristi-hanna-human-rights-complaint-transgender-woman-toronto-shelter

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