Historic apology and law reform pave the way for true equality for LGBTIQ people in South Australia

The state apology to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people delivered by the South Australian Premier this afternoon was welcomed by community advocates, ahead of the expected passage of a suite of reforms to tackle discrimination against LGBTIQ people.

Members of the LGBTIQ community and their families gathered at parliament house to hear the apology, including transgender woman and LGBTIQ community leader Zoey Campbell who sincerely applauded the apology.

“This apology will help start to heal a lifetime of being criminalised, medicalised and stigmatised, and helps me start to feel accepted and valued by the community I live in,” said Ms Campbell.

“For too long legislative discrimination has hurt many in our community. We still have a long way to go, but the Premier’s words are an historic step towards acceptance and help pave the way towards true equality. We look forward to working in partnership with the Government and wider parliament on the many tasks that remain,” added Ms Campbell. 

The apology was delivered by the Premier in the House of Assembly this afternoon, with bipartisan support. Meanwhile, the Legislative Council is debating four bills that will address discrimination against LGBTIQ people in a range of areas (the bills passed through the lower house last sitting week).

There are four different bills which will be voted on by South Australian MPs – with every individual MP having a conscience vote on whether they will support them. The bills represent the Government’s response to a review undertaken by the SA Law Reform Institute that found over 140 South Australian Acts and Regulations that discriminate (or potentially discriminate) on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and intersex status.

Anna Brown, from the Human Rights Law Centre welcomed Jay Weatherill’s speech and said the apology recognises the harm caused these discriminatory laws have caused.

“This apology is a powerful symbolic act that helps to repair the harm caused by these unjust laws and affirms the dignity and value of LGBTIQ people and their families,” said Ms Brown.

“Taken together, these legislative reforms represent an enormous step forward for LGBTIQ equality in South Australia, and will make important practical difference to the lives of many people,” added Ms Brown.

Ali and Jo are a same-sex couple living in Adelaide who were forced to travel to NSW to conceive their children because of the barriers to accessing IVF in South Australia. They welcomed the Premier’s apology and urged the swift passage of legislation to remove discrimination against LGBTIQ people in accessing Assisted Reproductive Treatment, as well as adoption and altruistic surrogacy. 

“This apology validates the suffering – physical, mental, emotional and financial – that we have had to endure and continue to endure because of laws that discriminate against us,” said Ali.

“The discrimination in the law makes what is already a complicated and stressful process even more complicated and stressful. Rather than undergo invasive exploratory procedures to assess my fertility levels, we decided to go to NSW to conceive our two beautiful children. We had to save up each time we needed to travel for a consultation or procedure, sometimes delaying treatment because we ran out of money, simply because of these hurdles in the current law,” added Ali.

The four Bills currently before the SA parliament:

  • The Relationships Register Bill 2016 will introduce a relationship recognition scheme and recognise same sex couples married overseas, and add discrimination protections for intersex people.
  • The Adoption (Review) Amendment Bill 2016 will, amongst other reforms, remove discrimination against same-sex couples in adoption.
  • The Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy Eligibility) Bill 2016 will provide equal access to Assisted Reproductive Treatment and altruistic surrogacy for all couples (not just heterosexual couples).
  • The Births, Deaths and Marriages (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill 2016 will allow trans and gender diverse people to access birth certificates in their true gender without the need for invasive or unnecessary surgery. The bill has been reintroduced with amendments (raising the age of application from 16 to 18 years old) after it initially failed to pass the lower house in September.

More information about the reforms is available at www.makechangehappensa.org