Reforms To Remove Barriers For LGBTQIA+ Community

  • A Bill to be introduced into State Parliament this week will abolish the Gender Reassignment Board, bringing WA into line with all other States and Territories
  • Reform will introduce a new streamlined administrative process for sex and gender recognition through the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
  • Cook Labor Government delivers important social reform, implementing recommendations from the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia

Trans and gender-diverse Western Australians will no longer be required to undergo medical or surgical reassignment to formally register a change of sex or gender under proposed reforms to be introduced in State Parliament this week.

The Births, Deaths, Marriages Registration Amendment (Sex or Gender Changes) Bill 2024 repeals the Gender Reassignment Act 2000 and introduces a new streamlined administrative process for sex and gender recognition through the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.

The Gender Reassignment Board currently tasked with processing change to sex applications, will be abolished.

The changes were recommended by the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia in its 2018 report Review of Western Australian legislation in relation to the registration or change of a person’s sex and/or gender and status relating to sex characteristics and brings Western Australia into line with most other Australian jurisdictions.

The evidence required to support an application will be a statement from a medical practitioner or psychologist certifying the person has undergone appropriate clinical treatment, which may include counselling. The same test is used in other Australian jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, in relation to recording sex or gender on Australian passports.

As part of the reform, consistent with the Law Reform Commission’s recommendations and several other jurisdictions, the sex descriptor of ‘non-binary’ will be available for Western Australians, in addition to ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘indeterminate/intersex’.

Stricter rules apply in respect of people under the age of 18, including parental consent or permission from the Family Court of Western Australia in certain circumstances.

The reform does not change the existing procedures that relate to the registration of sex on a birth certificate when a child is born.

The Bill also contains a statutory review clause, ensuring the community can provide feedback on the operation and effectiveness of the regime after three years.

In introducing this Bill, the Cook Labor Government reiterates its commitment to its broader reform agenda supporting diversity and inclusion in Western Australia.

Policy and drafting work is continuing to develop a new Equal Opportunity Act and to ban conversion practices – consisting of both a criminal prohibition and a civil response scheme. This includes engaging closely with stakeholders and monitoring the progress of proposed Commonwealth Government reforms, ahead of introducing legislation in 2025 under a re-elected Cook Labor Government.

The Government also remains committed to development of new legislation for assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy and intends to introduce reforms to Parliament as soon as possible.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

“This first tranche of legislative reform strongly supports my Government’s ongoing commitment to equality for all Western Australians. This follows our recent commitment to developing WA’s first LGBTQIA+ inclusion strategy, which will promote inclusiveness and wellbeing and ensure LGBTQIA+ people experience full social and economic participation.

“Everyone deserves the respect and dignity of being recognised as themselves, to have their legal identity align with their lived identity.

“These important reforms will mean that trans and gender-diverse members of our community will no longer be required to undergo gender affirming surgery to change their gender on their birth certificate, removing the outdated barriers that deny people identity documents that accurately reflect their gender.

“My Government has a significant legislative agenda, and is committed to finalising our second tranche of reforms in close consultation with the community.”

As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:

“Western Australia is the only jurisdiction where a Gender Reassignment Board determines a person’s application to change sex. WA and New South Wales are the only Australian jurisdictions that require applicants to have undergone medical or surgical reassignment in order to change the sex on their birth certificate.

“This Bill abolishes the Gender Reassignment Board and introduces a new administrative application process for people seeking to change their sex or gender on their birth certificate.

“Instead, they will be able to apply directly to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages with a statement by a medical practitioner and psychologist, certifying that they have received appropriate clinical treatment in relation to the person’s sex or gender.

“The State Government remains 100 per cent committed to new equal opportunity legislation and we will continue to engage with stakeholders in relation to this important reform.”

/Public Release. View in full here.