Hundreds of LGBTIQ+ advocates marched through Hobart on Saturday, protesting a Liberal senator's bill that would exclude transgender people from participating in single-sex sport.
Tasmanian senator Claire Chandler introduced the "Save Women's Sport" bill - which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week was "terrific" - into parliament earlier this month.
The bill aims to amend the Sex Discrimination Act and would allow sporting groups greater rights to keep trans people from playing single-sex sport.
Equality Tasmania spokesperson and trans man, Dr Charlie Burton, told SBS News on Saturday that the bill was unnecessary and harmful.
Equality Tasmania spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton Credit: Supplied/Yvette Watt
“Nationally there is a framework for addressing possible inequality and unfairness in sport,” Dr Burton said.
“Through a combination of the Sex Discrimination Act, and guidelines set out by Sports Australia, sports clubs and teams have all the mechanisms they need to make sure sport is both inclusive and has fair competition.”
A forum was also held on Saturday titled “Gender Identity in Law” by a group called the Coalition for Biological Reality.
According to the forum’s description, speakers would be outlining "why we need a national inquiry into gender identity law reforms, and the need to amend the federal Sex Discrimination Act and State/Territory anti-discrimination laws".
Bronwyn Winter, from the Coalition of Activist Lesbians attended the forum, and spoke at a press conference before it began.
She said: “no one in this forum wants to tell consenting adults what they should or should not do with their bodies.
“The women in this forum are talking about women’s sex-based rights, and the rights of children to be free from unnecessary and harmful medical interventions on their bodies.”
Senator Chandler spoke at the forum, voicing concerns about granting men access to women’s spaces.
She told SBS News her bill would ensure sporting clubs and organisations can’t have legal action taken against them if they choose to have single-sex sport for anyone.
“My bill won’t prevent sporting organisations from offering other types of sporting competitions that can ensure that everybody is included,” she said.
Trans rights advocates far outnumbered the forum attendees. About 90 people are estimated to have registered for the forum, while a few hundred people attended the counter rally.
Senator Claire Chandler on Saturday at the forum Credit: SBS News/Sarah Maunder
Cate Warren from Cygnet, south of Hobart, said she attended the counter rally to show her support for all women in sport.
“It doesn't matter who you are, what your gender is, or what your gender was, when you were born - if you are a woman, then you are a woman,” she said.
Maz Newman, also from Cygnet, said it was important for people to stand up for the rights of the trans community.
“We should just be able to accept people for who they are, whoever they say they are, using whatever name they use. That’s why I am here, to lend my support and voice,” she said.
Dr Burton said the forum and the bill will have a further negative effect on the trans community across Australia.
“There’s actually really strong evidence to show that the kind of discourse that will be thrown around in the event today and that has been unleashed as a result of the religious discrimination bill, and now senator Claire Chandler’s bill, that it has an immediate effect on the trans and gender diverse community,” he said.
“We see for example, calls to helplines going up with people in crisis feeling traumatised, because they know their rights, and in some cases, their very existence, are being questioned and are under threat.”
The bill is unlikely to be debated in parliament before the election.
LGBTIQ+ Australians seeking support with mental health can contact QLife on 1800 184 527 or visit qlife.org.au. ReachOut.com also has a list of support services.