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Saturday 10 October 2009

Transgender law changes: progress report

Posted in: Comment
By Allyson Hamblett - 26th August 2009

The long slow process of preparing a Bill to address legal identity and discrimination issues for transgender people has not made many headlines lately, but it continues nonetheless. Allyson Hamblett of Genderbridge, one of several groups and many individuals calling for the law to be updated, offers a progress report.

The two recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission include rewording of section 28 of the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act (1995) so that surgery is not necessarily needed in order to obtain a Declaration as to Sex, and including gender identity under the sex category of the Human Rights Act.

Genderbridge had a successful meeting with National MP Nikki Kaye, who is supportive of the two legislative changes recommended by the Human Rights Commission. Two months ago Genderbridge had another successful meeting with ACT leader Rodney Hide.

Rodney Hide suggested an Omni Bill next year which would apply to simple law changes. The Omni Bill would take less parliamentary time. He has already met with Simon Power (Minister of Justice) who is very supportive. Rodney Hide plans to talk to the Prime Minister and to Chief Human Rights Commissioner Roslyn Noonan. I have informed him of the successful meeting with Nikki Kaye.

Nikki Kaye thinks that modifying section 28 of the BDMRA may be 
easier to achieve than including gender identity. She is going to talk with Rodney Hide and Simon Power. Genderbridge supports this approach, although I would like to see both pieces of legislation passed in the not too distant future.

I’ve been trying to keep the pressure on the MPs, keeping the Green Party and the Rainbow Labour MPs informed. Kevin Hague said that all nine Green Party MPs are fully supportive of the proposed changes, and would support the changes being made as part of an Omni Bill such as Rodney proposes.

I have just received an email from Labour MP Charles Chauvel that says:
"It is good that people like Rodney Hide and Nikki Kaye say that they are supportive. I think the thing to do is to ask them not only whether they would vote for such legislation, but whether they would introduce it. When one of them is willing to do this we will be able to work with them to get the numbers together."

Allyson Hamblett - 26th August 2009

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