LGBTIQ community advocates & families welcome equality reforms in parliament

MEDIA ALERT – PRESS CONFERENCE

Door stop and photo opportunity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community advocates and families ahead of vote in SA parliament on LGBTIQ equality bills.

Date: Tuesday 15 November 2016
Time: 11:15am
Location: Steps of Parliament House, North Terrace & King Williams St

MEDIA RELEASE

LGBTIQ community advocates & families welcome equality reforms in parliament

The South Australian lower house is set to debate a suite of reforms today which – if passed – will be an enormous advance towards equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) South Australians. Three bills to be voted on this week propose a range of reforms including recognizing the relationships and families of same-sex couples and improved access to birth certificates for transgender and intersex people.

Members of the LGBTIQ community and their families gathered at parliament house to show their support for the reforms, including transgender advocate Zoey Cambell from the SA Rainbow Advocacy Alliance.

“These reforms in Parliament are about giving a fair go to rainbow families, intersex and transgender people and ending legal discrimination. These reforms will not hurt anyone, but will make life easier for same-sex couples and individuals that yearn for their own family, trans people affirming who they are, and intersex people who experience misunderstanding and discrimination,” said Ms Campbell.

There are three 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.

"With all the attention on marriage equality it’s easy to forget that LGBTIQ South Australians face inequality in other areas of law that make it difficult for people to simply live their lives and raise their families," said Anna Brown, Director of Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre.

Relationships Register Bill

The Relationships Register Bill 2016 will introduce a relationship recognition scheme and recognise same sex couples married overseas.

“These improvements give same-sex couples the comfort and security of knowing their relationship is recognised in the eyes of the law, and the registration scheme removes any need to “prove” your de facto relationship to officials at hospitals or aged care homes,” added Ms Brown.

The reforms were triggered by the tragic case of David Bulmer-Rizzi, who died on his honeymoon in South Australia last year. David’s husband Marco Bulmer-Rizzi was told that he wouldn’t be recognised on the death certificate, which would state that David was never married.

Mr Kenton Miller, a close friend of gay rights advocate Ian Purcell AM who passed away recently, drew attention to the urgency of the reforms.

"This week, I helped bury my good friend and long term gay activist Ian Purcell AM. Ian was in a relationship of more than 25 years with Stephen Leahy, the man he had to travel overseas to marry. Stephen now faces the absurdity of unnecessary legal hurldes if his name is not registered on Ian's death certificate," said Mr Miller.

Reforms to help LGBTIQ parents and families

The reforms will also provide equal access for de facto and same sex couples to start a family through assisted reproductive technology or altruistic surrogacy, and allow same-sex couples and single people to apply to adopt children. South Australian law currently requires lesbian couples to be considered “medically infertile” to have access to Assisted Reproductive Treatment, which, in practice, denies many same sex couples the ability to access IVF.

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.

“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,” said Ali.

“We’re allowed to foster children but not allowed to have our own children in our own state – I hope the parliament finally realizes that this just doesn’t make sense,” added Ali.

Births, Deaths and Marriages (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill

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.

“With the ability to change their birth certificates without going to court, transgender people will no longer need to feel that they are being judged for being who they are,” said Kristyana Finch, Transgender Advocate and President of the Gender Diversity Alliance SA.

“It would be a victory for common sense and the mental health of those being put through such an unnecessary ordeal to make a small but important change on a birth certificate,” added Ms Finch.

Protections for intersex people

The reforms will introduce protection from discrimination for intersex people, who are currently protected under the federal Sex Discrimination Act but not under South Australia’s Equal Opportunity Act.

“All of us can suffer discrimination and stigmatisation because of our physical characteristics, including in healthcare, education, employment, services and sport. Many intersex people identify with legal sexes assigned at birth and some do not. We welcome the tabling of legislation to start to address these issues,” said Morgan Carpenter, Co-Chair of Organisation Intersex International Australia.

Intersex people are born with physical or biological sex characteristics, such as genitals, anatomy, hormonal or chromosomal patterns, that don’t fit norms for female or male bodies. These differences can become apparent prenatally, at birth, at puberty or later in life.

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