Simon Birmingham urges caution over trans sports ban

An exemption in section 42 of the Sex Discrimination Act states that it is not unlawful “to discriminate on the basis of sex, gender identity or intersex status by excluding persons from participation in any competitive sporting activity in which the strength, endurance or physique of the competitors is relevant”.

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Asked about the issue while campaigning in Tasmania on Tuesday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Morrison appeared unaware of the exemption but did not elaborate on the matter.

“He seems unaware that it’s already covered by the Sex Discrimination Act. Sports already control these things,” Albanese said.

Campaigning in New South Wales on Monday, Morrison declined to say whether he would legislate to ban trans women from women’s sports if the Coalition retained government.

But he again backed the efforts of Chandler, who introduced legislation in parliament in February that would make it easier for sports organizations to exclude transgender women from competing in women’s sports.

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He also backed the campaign led by Deves, the co-founder of the organization Save Women’s Sport, which is lobbying sports organizations to ban trans women from women’s sports and create a separate category for them to participate in.

“I salute the selection of Katherine Deves and I am very happy to play a part in it. I think she raises some very important questions, and I think Claire Chandler was very outspoken and courageous about those questions as well. And I share their views, and I’ll have more to say about that at another time,” Morrison said.

Equality Australia chief executive Anna Brown said it was time for political parties to promise to govern for all people in the country, regardless of their identity.

“Politicians need to learn that there is nothing to be gained by refusing to stand up for LGBTIQ+ people or by using the debate about our lives to score cheap political points,” Brown said Monday.

Jacqueline Maley cuts through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, opinion and expert analysis. Sign up for our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.

Teresa E. Burton