Page 398 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 16 February 2016
parents who face these circumstances would not be able to have their parentage of the child recognised. This amendment will allow parents who may have their child born in the ACT in unplanned circumstances to receive a substitute parentage order. While the amendment would only be relevant in rare circumstances, it will be of deep importance to those to whom it applies.
Sections 7 and 8 of the bill allow people born in the ACT the option of having a change of name noted on the register, and having the new name noted on the back of the birth certificate. These amendments will be of particular importance to those who marry overseas but are unable to use their marriage certificate to change their surname to their partner’s. Currently, in these circumstances, individuals must change their name on their birth certificate, with their new surname replacing their surname at birth. This experience causes distress for some people who feel their identity at birth is displaced by the process. These amendments aim to resolve this issue for them.
This bill makes amendments which recognise the diversity of families in the ACT. The bill removes gender-specific terms in both the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 and the Parentage Act 2004. For most families—and this goes to some of Mr Hanson’s comments—these changes have no impact. They will fill out their paperwork after their child is born, ticking the traditional boxes, probably without much thought. For a number of families, these changes present the opportunity for their family to be represented in an accurate way. The bill moves the ACT beyond binary ideas of parenthood. These ways of thinking about parents have become outdated and inaccurate in some circumstances. They do not reflect the reality of some families. The bill makes the space for these families to be recognised.
In making these changes, I wish to acknowledge the importance of the terms “mother” and “father.” For many, their identity as a mother or father is the most important aspect of their life. Our children are precious to us, and acknowledgement of our role in their lives is fundamental to many people. This bill in no way diminishes the importance of these terms, and in fact the bill ensures that the terms “mother” and “father” can continue to be used to describe parents.
Section 12 of the bill introduces a new type of certificate into the ACT, a recognised details certificate. This certificate allows an ACT resident who was not born here the opportunity to have official documentation affirming the gender they live as. These certificates have been used successfully in other jurisdictions.
The evidentiary requirements to receive a recognised details certificate are similar to those for a change of sex on a birth certificate: a statutory declaration by a doctor or a psychologist certifying that either the person has received appropriate clinical treatment for alteration of the person’s sex or the applicant is an intersex person. There is no requirement for the person to have had sex reassignment surgery.
The South Australian Law Reform Institute recently released a report titled Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and intersex status in South Australian legislation. The report discussed the ACT Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act and noted: