Page 4388 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013

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Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (10.59): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present this bill to the Assembly today. For the second time in an as many months, the government is seeking to ensure that all members of our community are able to participate in public life without discrimination. I am also tabling a revised government response to the Law Reform Advisory Council report titled Beyond the binary: legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in the ACT. The bill seeks to amend the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 and the Legislation Act 2001 to improve legal recognition of sex and gender diverse people in the ACT.

As I said in my inaugural speech on joining this Assembly, the most valuable part of any society is its people, and the extent to which people feel they can contribute to the community depends on how safe and secure they feel within it. We cannot expect people to participate freely in our community if they feel stigmatised, disenfranchised or ignored.

Regrettably, there are still some in our community who experience these outcomes. What some might take for granted, or not give a second’s thought to, such as applying for a birth certificate, passport or credit card, can be an intrusive and complex process for those who do not identify with the options currently available on those documents.

Legal impediments to recognising diversity have a real impact on people’s lives. For example, many sex-diverse people carry inconsistent identification. This is a significant obstacle to participating in many aspects of daily life. Opening bank accounts, filing tax returns or acquiring driving, security or business licences can all become deeply exposing and personally confronting incidents.

Without reform, these members of our community can become more isolated and less able to participate in society because of these unnecessary obstacles. This is why, in March 2011, I asked the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council to inquire into the issue of the legal recognition of the sex and gender diverse community.

That report was presented to the Assembly in June last year. It made 35 recommendations for the government on measures that would improve recognition of the sex and gender diverse community in the ACT. In tabling the government response in March this year, the government agreed to update the existing legal framework through a number of changes to the BDMR Act and the Legislation Act.

Since the government tabled its response, some significant changes in Australia have occurred. These changes have better informed the government’s position on these matters. In June this year, the Australian government issued its guidelines on the

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