The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has accused the Queensland government of bulldozing what it labels an “anti-family, anti-women, anti-science bill” through State Parliament.
The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Act will allow anyone over 16 to relatively easily change their gender on their birth certificate. All they require is a supporting statement from someone they’ve known for 12 months or longer.
Previously, Queenslanders could only apply to change the sex on their birth certificates after they’d undergone gender reassignment surgery – a costly procedure that isn’t readily available.
The Australian Associated Press reports the new laws have two pathways to alter the record of gender for a child between 12 and 15 — either through the Children’s Court without parental permission or with an application by a parent or guardian when particular criteria are met. They also enable same sex couples to register as mother/mother or father/father for the first time. Parents are no longer required to assign any gender to a newborn.
The LNP State Opposition opposed the laws, arguing a bill allowing self-declaration was a threat to women’s privacy in women-only spaces such as toilets and change rooms and would have a negative impact on women’s sports.
“This bill is an attack on women, it is an attack on women’s rights and it’s an attack on young girls,” deputy LNP leader Jarrod Bleijie told state parliament. Opposition MPs also raised concerns about children under the age of 16 who might apply to change the gender on their birth certificate.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the bill had proper safeguards and “does not allow a young person to just go off and randomly make a decision and get these changes made without any proper oversight”. Health Minister Shannon Fentiman, who introduced the bill last year as attorney-general, said the concerns about women’s safety were unfounded: “Despite repeated claims to the contrary, there is no evidence from any jurisdiction to suggest that women will have fewer rights or be less safe,” she told parliament.
The ACL underlines that the laws were passed by the state Labor government “despite a clear majority of submissions, including those from experts and women’s groups, being opposed to the legislation.” Shadow Attorney General Tim Nicholls said 208 submissions were against the legislation while 170 supported it, but the Legal Affairs and Safety Committee still recommended that it be passed.
ACL Queensland Director Rob Norman says the passage of the bill is symptomatic of a government that has stopped listening to the majority of Queenslanders. He says it also demonstrates the failure of the state’s committee system when it doesn’t have an Upper house.