UN Asks Australia To Fix Its ‘Forced Transgender Divorce’ Laws


State and territory governments have been urged to repeal laws that force married transgender Australians to divorce if they want their birth certificate changed to reflect their gender identity.

New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all require married transgender people to divorce their spouses before their birth certificate can be changed.

A recently published United Nations Human Rights Committee decision upheld the right of a New South Wales transgender woman to remain married under federal law and have her birth certificate changed to read “female”.

Buzzfeed reported the woman tried unsuccessfully on three occasions to change her birth certificate, and the UN Human Rights Committee found the local laws stopping her violated the rights outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“The state party has not provided any explanation why a change in sex on a birth certificate would result in irreconcilable and unacceptable conflict with the Marriage Act if the author remains married, whereas a change in sex on her passport in identical circumstances is allowed,” the committee’s decision read.

The committee directed Australia to provide the woman with a birth certificate marked female, to revise the law, and to issue a response to the ruling by December 15, according to Buzzfeed.

Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said state and territory governments should immediately repeal their laws forcing married couples to divorce “if these governments wish to be seen as respecting Australia’s human rights obligations.”

“As the UN has pointed out, it makes no sense for Australia to issue passports that reflect true gender identity, but not issue birth certificates in the same circumstances without the onerous prerequisite of divorce,” he said.

“It is cruel to make transgender partners choose between their gender identity and their solemn vows of lifelong commitment.”

Mr Croome dismissed concerns that repealing the laws would conflict with the federal Marriage Act’s ban on same-sex marriage because the ACT and South Australia had already repealed them, in 2008 and 2016 respectively.