Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of supporting a “cruel and divisive” push from a Liberal Senator to allow sporting groups to exclude transgender people from single-sex sport.
Mr Morrison on Tuesday threw his support behind Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler’s proposed private member’s bill titled “save women’s sports”, which aims to amend the Sex Discrimination Act.
The bill introduced to the Senate earlier this month would change the laws to “clarify” that the operation of single-sex sport on the basis of biological sex was not discriminatory.
Mr Morrison addressed the issue as he campaigned alongside Senator Chandler in the Tasmanian marginal seat of Lyons.
“I support it,” he said, when questioned about the bill.
“I think it is a terrific bill and I’ve given her great encouragement. Claire is a champion for women’s sport and I think she has been right to raise these issues in the way that she has.”
But National LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia have responded by renewing calls for the Senate to oppose the laws, claiming they would “exclude trans and gender diverse kids and adults.”
The group’s CEO Anna Brown also accused the prime minister of once again making the lives of trans and gender diverse children the subject of “political and media debate” by outlining his public support.
“Senator Chandler’s bill is not just unnecessary, it’s cruel and divisive,” she said.
“This is completely unacceptable, particularly when this group of people already experience disproportionate levels of discrimination, marginalisation and social isolation.”
The proposed bill was put forward as debate intensified over whether religious schools should retain the right to discriminate against transgender students on the basis of their faith.
Ms Brown said the Sex Discrimination Act already allows for discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender identity by excluding people from competing “where strength, stamina and physique” is relevant.
She also shared her concerns that Senator Chandler’s bill would go further by allowing for “the first time discrimination against children under the age of 12 years.”
During a speech introducing the bill, Senator Chandler said it was aimed at making clear “single-sex sport for women is lawful, encouraged and supported”.
"Single-sex sport for women and girls is a fundamental good for our society,” she said.
“It is unacceptable that Commonwealth laws threaten sports clubs and associations with legal action for offering single-sex sporting events and competition exclusively for females."
The laws' exploratory memorandum also outlines that they would ensure "organisers are not limited in their ability to operate single-sex sport by the threat of complaints of unlawful discrimination."
"It seeks to ensure that women’s single-sex sport is protected and encouraged, and that a male person is not entitled to demand inclusion into women’s sport on the basis of gender identity."
The federal government was forced to shelve its proposed religious discrimination bill after to ensure protection for transgender students from expulsion.