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Three Australia states move to scrap trans divorce laws

Three Australia states move to scrap trans divorce laws

Three Australian states today introduced bills to scrap laws that require married transgender people to divorce before their new gender is recognized.

Legislation was introduced in New South Wales by Greens legislative council member Mehreen Faruqi and Independent legislative assembly member Alex Greenwich, in South Australia by Greens legislative council member Tammy Franks, and by Greens house of assembly member Nick McKim in Tasmania.

No state or territory, except the Australian Capital Territory, recognize a sex change while a person is married. This means some couples where one partner is transgender are forced to divorce before that partner’s new gender is registered and recognised officially.

While the Commonwealth Marriage Act requires marriage to take place between a man and a woman, there is nothing in the law that prevents the on-going recognition of a marriage when one person changes gender.

Tasmanian transgender advocate, Martine Delaney, welcomed the move.

She said, ‘Couples facing the gender transition of one partner are already under enough stress without being forced to divorce.

‘Any one who believes in marriage and in keeping couples together should oppose this cruel and unnecessary provision.

‘If my late wife was still alive, Tasmanian law would force us to divorce even though we made the decision to stay together despite my gender reassignment.

‘No-one should be forced to choose between the official recognition of their marriage and the official recognition of their gender.’

Marriage equality advocates have called on all states to repeal laws forcing couples to divorce if one partner seeks legal recognition of their gender reassignment.

Marriage equality advocates have called on all states to repeal laws forcing couples to divorce if one partner seeks legal recognition of their gender reassignment.

Rodney Croome, Australian Marriage Equality national director, said, ‘These laws are cruel to transgender Australians and their partners, and demeaning of the solemn marriage vows these couples have made.

‘Being married is something which can sustain a relationship through the gender reassignment of one of the partners, yet here we have the government forcing an end to that marriage.

‘All those MPs who have expressed support for marriage as an institution should support the removal of these laws because it is about keeping married couples together.

‘Australian Marriage Equality encourages MPs in NSW, SA and Tasmania to take the lead and support this important legislation, and encourages other states to follow.’

Several countries which do not require transgender people to divorce in order for their change of gender to be recognized, including New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Lithuania and a number of US states.