LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – The NT Parliament will debate the question of gender identity on birth certificates this week, the Bill being rushed through in less than 30 days, with the government choosing not to undertake any public consultation.
Alarm bells should be ringing!
This Bill challenges traditions, values and norms of our society. Territorians need to know about these proposed changes.
The purpose to bring NT legislation into line with the new Federal Marriage Act (same sex marriage) and the Federal Sex Discrimination Act. But the amendments are far reaching, beyond what is required.
The Bill proposes a range of sexual identities be included: female, male, non-binary, intersex, and unspecified.
Having a category that allow babies with unclear gender to be recognised makes sense, but it should be noted there is considerable division over exactly what gender identity categories should be included.
This conflict was not canvassed at all by the NT Government. What the heck does “unspecified” and “non-binary” mean?
My concern is that whilst we can be inclusive of one group, it cannot be at the cost of another group.
The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration and Other Legislation Bill 2018 also proposes that traditional gender terminology on birth certificates, such as wife, husband, he, she, brother, sister, widow and widower, be replaced with “gender neutral” terms such as spouse, people and de facto partner.
This dumbing down of society to the lowest common denominator is absurd and in no one’s best interest. We should be embracing diversity of all kinds, as uncool and as traditional as the diversity maybe. To exclude one in favour of the other is socially regressive, not socially progressive.
The key consequential changes to the Bill propose that people don’t have to be married to change their gender on birth certificates; under strict conditions children can change their gender on their birth certificate; that adults can change their gender on their birth certificates without having had gender reassignment surgery; and adults can change their gender on their birth certificates as many times as they want.
A birth certificate should be a record of a person’s details at birth. Changing any information on a birth certificate means it is not a true and accurate record of a birth, and by literal definition is not a birth certificate.
I believe the Government should consider the use of an alternative “identity” or “recognition” certificate to allow people to change their details, including gender if they choose, whilst keeping a birth certificate as a pure record of birth.
The Gunner Labor Government has deliberately tried to fly under the radar with this, knowing full well that people will be generally concerned about these types of changes to societal norms and traditions.
Robyn Lambley MLA
Independent Member for Araluen