Page 849 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 April 2014

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Mr Hanson: I am just wondering whether there is a point of order on relevance or—

MADAM SPEAKER: No, there is not.

Mr Hanson: appropriateness of the question, reflecting on previous debates on this in this place or previous votes.


Mr Hanson: It seems entirely odd to me.

MADAM SPEAKER: It is a reasonable inquiry. There is not a point of order. However, I did reflect on this as Dr Bourke was asking the question. There is nothing to stop the minister being asked, and the minister answering, a question about recent developments, even if they were only quite recent. It is not a reflection on the vote. The answer is entirely in order. Mr Corbell.

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Of course, the significance of the question relates to the fact that the High Court has confirmed that the approach adopted by this place in its amendments to the births, deaths and marriages law is one that is appropriate in the context of contemporary Australia. For the High Court of Australia to determine that it is legally appropriate for there to be recognition of sex and gender other than the binary male and female definition is a very significant one.

The territory’s law reform in this area preceded, of course, the High Court decision but has been confirmed by that decision. We welcome that decision. We welcome the support of this place for reform in this area, because it is about extending equality and recognition before the law for sex and gender diverse people in our community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Attorney, can you please expand on the recent legislative changes in regard to Canberrans no longer requiring sexual reassignment surgery to change their sex on a birth certificate.

MR CORBELL: Of course, these amendments do remove, as I said earlier, the requirement to have sexual reassignment surgery to be able to alter your birth certificate. That power now has been replaced with a provision for certification from an appropriate medical professional as to the identification of that person in terms of their sex and it provides for a clinical treatment definition rather than sexual reassignment surgery.

This is a very important reform and indeed was the key issue arising from the LRAC report. The Law Reform Advisory Council said that these provisions for sexual reassignment surgery were unnecessary, were intrusive and impacted on rights such as the right to refuse medical treatment, and therefore should not be in an ACT statute. I am very pleased to see that essentially the High Court decision reflects these legislative developments here in the ACT and is confirmation of the territory’s reforms in this area.

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