Law reform is much needed if human rights are important to Tasmanians

March 19, 2019

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has written to Tasmanian MPs to urge them to vote for amendments to the Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage Amendments) Bill 2018 currently before the Tasmanian Legislative Council.

The Bill includes proposed amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999 which will positively impact transgender, intersex and gender diverse communities in Tasmania.

Georgia Burke Co-Chair of ALHR’s LGBTI Rights Committee said, “These amendments will afford improved rights to transgender, intersex and gender diverse people in Tasmania, including the ability to have gender (male or female) as recorded by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages reflected on a birth certificate or to be absent from a birth certificate.

“These amendments are consistent with relevant international human rights standards, including the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10 (“YP+10”) which affirm binding international legal standards and their application to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Those standards impose obligations on States to ensure that official identity documents only include personal information that is relevant, reasonable and necessary as required by the law for a legitimate purpose. The standards also call for an end to the registration of sex and gender on identity documents such as birth certificates. Application of these principles has real effect for the transgender and gender diverse community in Tasmania. For example, insisting on the inclusion of gender on birth certificates perpetuates a view that intersex children ought to confirm with a gender determined by parents or medical practitioners and, as a consequence, perpetuates the tendency towards subjecting intersex children to unnecessary surgical procedures.”

ALHR LGBTI Committee Co-Chair Nicholas Stewart said, “ALHR supports this Bill because it tackles key issues of importance to the LGBTI community and brings Tasmania’s human rights into the modern world. We are pleased to see the Bill proposing amendments that enable people to amend identification documents, namely birth certificates, to reflect the person’s lived gender, without the need for gender reassignment surgery. We are also encouraged by the Bill’s proposed accommodation of parents of intersex children in relation to being given sixty (60) days before being required to register their child’s birth. If passed, the amendments will not take any rights away from parents or other citizens. However, they will ameliorate potential human rights violations against transgender, intersex and other gender diverse Tasmanians.”

“By removing the requirement that transgender Tasmanians obtain a divorce in order to change their gender, the proposed amendments also give effect to a 2017 decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee which found such a requirement in breach of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.”

“ALHR urges members of the Legislative Council to give due and proper weight to relevant international human rights standards and support these amendments in their entirety.”

Read a copy of ALHR’s letter to Tasmanian MPs here

 Media Contact: To arrange an interview with Nicholas Stewart or Georgia Burke M: 0431 980 365 E:

ALHR was established in 1993 and is a national association of Australian solicitors, barristers, academics, judicial officers and law students who practise and promote international human rights law in Australia. ALHR has active and engaged National, State and Territory committees and specialist thematic committees. Through advocacy, media engagement, education, networking, research and training, ALHR promotes, practices and protects universally accepted standards of human rights throughout Australia and overseas.