3 min read

Transgender Athlete Bill To Amend Discrimination Laws


Tasmania Liberal Senator Claire Chandler introduced her ‘save women’s sport’ bill earlier this month, aimed at amending sex discrimination laws.

In a statement, Chandler suggested the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 acknowledges sex is relevant in sport, but due to different interpretations, has limited the circumstances where single-sex sport can be offered.

The bill would clarify and simplify, that the operation of single-sex sport on the basis of biological sex is not discrimination and protect sporting clubs from legal action being taken against them if they choose to offer single-sex sport to women and girls.

Commenting on her bill, Senator Chandler told the ABC, that the bill will not force sporting clubs to do anything, it’s just providing legal certainty and if clubs and organisation want to offer mixed-sex sport options or open options, they still can.

Although it’s unlikely the bill will be debated or voted on before the next election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed the proposal, saying, he supports it, it’s a terrific bill and he has given her great encouragement.

“Claire is a champion for women’s sport and I think she’s been right to raise these issues in the way that she has,” Morrison said.

Showing her disapproval of the bill, chief executive of Equality Australia, Anna Brown, said, the bill is not just unnecessary, it’s cruel and divisive.

“In offering his public support for this Bill, the Prime Minister is once again making the lives of trans and gender diverse kids the subject of political and media debate,” Brown said.

“This is completely unacceptable, particularly when this group of people already experience disproportionate levels of discrimination, marginalisation and social isolation,” she said.

Adding to Brown’s comments, Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Charlie Burton, told Sky News Australia, the Prime Minister had shown a lack of empathy to trans and gender diverse people and Senator Chandler’s bill strips “transgender people of the right to live as we are.”

“In Tasmania, transgender women have been playing women’s sport and accessing women’s services for many years without any of the problems predicted by Senator Chandler,” Burton said.

“Tasmanian sporting organisations have been actively seeking guidance on how to be more inclusive, not less, with strong support from the Tasmanian Liberal Government,” he said.

Additionally, the NRL and Netball Australia are the only major Australian sports bodies to comment publicly, with Super Netball chief executive, Kelly Ryan, suggesting it should be a sports decision.

The bill comes after heavy debate in the US on whether transgender athletes should be allowed to participate in events, after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, previously competed in men’s events, broke several records at the Ivy League Championships.

USA Swimming brought in a new policy that could exclude transgender women from future events, it also requires athletes to prove they do not have an advantage from being born a male and need to demonstrate they have kept testosterone levels below a set amount.

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