Speaker Sue Hickey has gone against her own party and sided with Labor and the Greens on amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act to allow for changes to birth certificates which recognise the wishes of the state’s transgender community.
In legislation largely to acknowledge same-sex marriage in Tasmania, Ms Hickey backed changes to birth certificates to remove barriers of transgender people.
The amendments would allow parents to choose whether gender was listed on a child’s birth certificate or not, remove a requirement for a person to have reassignment surgery to have their gender changed on their birth certificate, and extend the period of surgery on intersex newborns from 60 days to 120 days to allow parents more time to consider the procedure.
There was also the removal of a forced divorce provision for people who transition gender.
The government earlier in the day pulled the legislation after Labor successfully moved a procedural motion to have nine amendments, which it had worked on with the Greens and the transgender community, to allow the bill debated.
It won the support of its ten members, the Greens and Ms Hickey.
This was the first time Ms Hickey used her casting vote against her own party.
After the government removed the bill, Ms Hickey abruptly suspended the sitting.
This gave the government time to seek advice on the amendments from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and departmental officers.
Leader of Government Business Michael Ferguson said the advice was that the amendments were "poorly drafted and would have unintended consequences".
Attorney-General Elise Archer said the government wanted to send the amendments to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute for consideration, having just received the amendments at lunch time.
She said six of the amendments were new and three had been heavily changed from previous positions.
Ms Archer said several were unworkable in an administrative sense.
“The government doesn’t have a position on this so we want to refer it to the TLRI to be properly informed,” she said.
The government needed to meet a December 9 deadline from the federal government to pass the bill to ensure the state complies with Commonwealth legislation on same-sex marriage.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said it was cruel punishment to require a person to have reassignment surgery to represent who they really were.
Labor Justice spokeswoman Ella Haddad said the changes overall would have “zero effect on the masses”.