Queer Liberation Boorloo is stepping up the pressure on West Australian Labor to deliver promised reforms to the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 and to abolish the Gender Reassignment Board (GRB).
Activists marched at the Pride WA Parade on November 25 behind a banner which read: “ALP is all talk no action. Equal opportunity act reform now.” They confronted Rainbow Labor’s float, where Premier Roger Cook and Attorney General John Quigley were.
“The Premier and Attorney General saw a public relations opportunity in attending the Pride Parade this year,” Queer Liberation Boorloo said. “We decided to let them know they don’t get their PR until they pass the legislation they promised us in 2018."
Queer activists point to Labor’s promise, from five years ago, that it would review the law.
While a Law Reform Commission review was published last year and a new bill was promised for early this year, nothing had been tabled by the end of this year’s sitting schedule.
Labor has even refused to give a timeline, or commit to pass the legislation in this term of government.
Labor promised to abolish the GRB last year after its president resigned in September last year. Gender reassignment applications cannot be processed without the president.
WA’s Gender Reassignment Act 2000 requires applicants to submit evidence to a GRB that they have undergone a gender reassignment procedure in the state. The GRB then has to be convinced the reassignment is necessary.
Activists say the this process should be simplified to a matter of self-declaration, which the Department of Births Deaths and Marriages processes — the procedure in most states and territories.
Activists also want the act bought into line with other states to ensure workplaces are free of harassment. The WA Equal Opportunity Act protects transgender and gender diverse people on the bases of a “gender history”, which the courts have interpreted as people need to have a gender recognition certificate.
Transgender people without a gender recognition certificate is not protected from discrimination at work.
The other important reform of the Equal Opportunity Act is to give greater protection to queer teachers and students in religious institutions.
Labor holds 53 Legislative Assembly seats and 22 Legislative Council seats — a super majority, but it popularity is on the decline.
Alex Wallace from Queer Liberation Boorloo told Green Left: “WA Labor needs to urgently pass this reform. Delaying it risks the reforms being politicised during an election campaign.
“Public debate about our lives will further impact the mental health of our community."