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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 835 ..

these people may have physiology and functions that resemble their gender identity rather than their birth sex. In other words, a transgender person is someone whose brain sex is quite different from their body sex.

An intersex person, on the other hand, is someone who has a genetic abnormality that means that their sex chromosomes or reproductive organs are not exclusively male or female. Their concerns in relation to government and the medical profession are very different to those of transgender people, particularly in the controversial use of so-called "normalising"surgery performed on children to make their bodies conform to a particular sex, whether or not there has been consent, whether or not that child has had the opportunity to be comfortable with who they are and to make their own decisions about their life choices.

Last week I circulated a number of amendments to this bill based on long consultations with queer communities. I notice that yesterday the government also circulated amendments that bear a startling resemblance to mine. While I am very pleased that the government has been happy to support so many of the ideas put forward, it may have been unnecessary for the government to duplicate in the way that they have. Perhaps in the future we can coordinate our thinking better to avoid this double-up and the confusion it has caused.

The raft of amendments needed clearly demonstrates how important it is to do community consultation before tabling legislation in this place. I understand that this bill was originally going to be tabled as an exposure draft, to try to sort these problems out earlier. Unfortunately, the government decided not to proceed with this option, so we are now faced with a long list of amendments that we will be debating later. Community consultation is important, especially when we are looking at these issues, because the people who know best about the lives they want to live and the discrimination they have been facing are the communities themselves. They live with these issues day to day. We should always be aware of the problems the queer communities in the ACT face. We should be working in this place to end the discrimination they face.

I also wish to speak briefly to some of the comments my office has received about the relationship between this type of reform and the traditional institution of marriage. Firstly, no law of the territory is able to alter marriage laws, as these are the province of the federal government. More importantly, the value and meaning of human relationships cannot be legislated. The social value of marriage is not in marriage laws but in the love, trust and commitment between two people. For those in particular religions, the spiritual nature of their partnership is created by their relationship with their god, not in laws created by parliaments.

The ACT Democrats believe that the role of the legislature is to write laws that are inclusive of all people and reflect the reality and diversity of human relationships in our community. We are a secular institution, and the interpretation of religious morals should be left to the pulpits and not dragged into our parliaments.

The elimination of disadvantage for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people does not end with just changing the legislation. Numerous government investigations, such as that which produced the Victorian government research paper on queer health,

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