Rainbow Territory wants to achieve the following policy and law reforms

Legislative reform

Adoption of Children Act 1994 (NT)

  • Legalise same-sex adoption
  • Legalise step-parents in same-sex relationships

Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT)

  • Clarify language to ensure protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and intersex status
  • Remove exemption allowing religious educational authority to discriminate against people on the basis of sexuality
  • Remove exemption excluding assisted fertilisation procedures from the coverage of the legislation
  • Introduce protection from vilification on the basis of gender identify, intersex status, sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS status

Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1996 (NT)

  • Remove the requirement for a person to have undergone sexual reassignment surgery in order to obtain identity documents that reflect their affirmed gender

LAW REFORM

Adoption of Children Act 1994 (NT)

Legalise same-sex adoption

Current: only couples that are married can adopt, with single people being able to adopt only in exceptional circumstances.

What impact does this have? Same sex couples can’t adopt.

What Rainbow Territory wants: we want adoption to be available to same sex couples and couples that are not married. This can be achieved by changing the Adoption Act so that couples do not have to be married, and that those couples can be same sex couples.

Section 13 of the Adoption of Children Act 1994 (NT) prohibits same-sex couples from adopting children. All jurisdictions except South Australia and the NT allow same-sex couples to adopt children. South Australia’s Upper House is due to debate legislation on 29 November 2016 that would legalise same-sex adoption. The legislation has already passed in the Lower House.

Same-sex couples that are otherwise well placed to adopt children should not be prevented from adopting on the basis of sexual orientation alone. Further, the Act also only reflects the binary construct of gender by referring to man and woman. The wording of the Act needs to be modernised to be inclusive of transgender and intersex people.

Legislate to allow step-parents in same-sex relationships to adopt the children of their partner

The Act currently prohibits a step-parent in a same-sex relationship from adopting the biological child of their partner. This has significant implications for both the adult and the child.

Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT)

Clarify language to ensure protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and intersex status

As it stands, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992 (NT) provides protection from discrimination on the basis of sexuality. The Act needs to be modernised to reflect the language adopted in the 2014 reforms to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) which provides protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Sexuality is defined under the NT legislation as including “transsexuality”. Transsexuality is an out- dated term that many trans people do not use nor identify with, with gender identity being the preferred terminology.

While the NT legislation provides protection from discrimination on the basis of sexuality, it does not include intersex status as a protected attribute. Arguably, intersex status could be considered as being included under the protected attribute of sex, however the Act should be reformed to include a separate attribute of intersex status to ensure clear protection.

Remove exemption allowing religious educational authorities to discriminate against people on the basis of sexuality

The Act provides an exemption that allows religious educational authorities to discriminate against people in the area of work on the basis of sexuality, where the discrimination is done in good faith to avoid offending the religious sensitivities of people of the particular religion.

This creates a situation where people can be refused employment, dismissed and refused access to training or promotion on the basis of their sexuality, and have no recourse under territory anti- discrimination legislation.

Remove exemption excluding assisted fertilisation procedures from the coverage of the legislation

The reference in the legislation to the provision of a service excludes the carrying out of an artificial fertilisation procedure, which is defined to include artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation. As it stands, people who identify as LGBTQI who wish to access assisted fertilisation procedures can be refused service on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, and are left with no legal recourse.

Provide protection from vilification on the basis of gender identify, intersex status, sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS status

The Anti-Discrimination Act does not contain any protection against vilification on the basis of gender identity, intersex status, sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS. Anti-vilification laws make it unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for or severe ridicule of a person on the ground that the person has a protected attribute. In addition to prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and relationships, New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania also prohibit vilification on these grounds.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1996 (NT)

Amend to remove requirement for a person to have undergone sexual reassignment surgery in order to obtain identity documents that reflect their affirmed gender

A person who wishes to change the Births, Deaths and Marriages register in order to obtain a birth certificate containing their affirmed gender must have undergone sexual reassignment surgery and be unmarried. Sexual reassignment surgery is expensive and not available in the NT. Further, the alteration of a person’s reproductive organs runs contrary to the notion that gender identity is about self-identification rather than aesthetic or physical qualities. Requiring a person to be unmarried forces a trans person to divorce their partner if they prioritise legal recognition of their affirmed gender over legal recognition of their relationship.

POLICY REFORM

List of policy reform

  • Implement a suicide prevention policy that considers and supports the mental health and 
wellbeing of LGBTQI people
  • Implement a trans and gender diverse prisoner policy
  • Commit to funding a long-term Safe Schools equivalent
  • Implement a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer program within the Northern Territory Police, Fire 
and Emergency Services

Implement a suicide prevention policy that specifically addresses the needs of LGBTQI people

The NT Suicide Prevention Strategic Action Plan 2015-2018 identifies the LGBTQI community as an at risk group in relation to suicide but fails, to require the Department of Health to do anything beyond supporting programs that support LGBTQI youth. This is particularly concerning given LGBTQI people experience the highest rates of suicide of any population in Australia.

Current: the current suicide prevention policy does not specifically address the LGBTQI community.

What impact does this have? a policy that does not address a high risk group cannot effectively prevent suicide in our community, especially amongst Indigenous people and young people who are same sex attracted or gender diverse.

What Rainbow Territory wants: we want the NT government and public servants to properly consult with our community to determine our needs in relation to mental health support and suicide prevention, and then provide an effective policy response. We want funded services that understand the needs of our community and have proper training in engaging with the LGBTQI community.

Implement a trans and gender diverse prisoner policy

The NT remains one of the few jurisdictions in Australia that has not developed a policy addressing issues pertaining to trans and gender diverse prisoners. Transgender people experience disproportionately high rates of violence compared to the rest of the community, and transgender inmates are at higher risk of sexual assault and/or self harm and more likely to experience higher levels of vulnerability than other prison populations.

The absence of a comprehensive policy supported by training for correctional staff places the safety and wellbeing of transgender prisoners within the NT correctional system, including sistergirls and brotherboys, at risk.

Commit to funding a long-term Safe Schools equivalent

Federal funding for Safe Schools ends in June 2017. The lack of a long-term LGBTQI related anti- bullying program will leave vulnerable LGBTQI young people susceptible to transphobic and homophobic related violence and bullying in schools.

Implement a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) program within the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services

The NT joins Western Australia in being the only jurisdictions in Australia not to provide a GLLO program within its’ police force. Extensive research throughout Australia suggests that members of the LGBTQI community experience higher than average levels of discrimination and abuse, as well as significantly under-report offences committed against them.

GLLO’s serve a community role by providing effective support and referral to victims of crime and violence, including homophobic crime and violence and same-sex domestic violence. This in turn increases the reporting of crime and violence. GLLO’s also serve an organisational role by providing a supportive workplace for LGBTQI employees and fostering a diverse workforce that can deliver an effective service to the NT community.

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Other law and policy reform
  • Changing the law to end discrimination against women of diverse sexualities to allow access to artificial fertilisation procedures
  • Changing the law to end discrimination in employment based on sexuality by religious educational institutions
  • Changing the law to make vilifying people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity against the law
  • Change in policy in relation to transgender and gender diverse prisoners in the corrections system to ensure that transgender and gender diverse prisoners are placed in prisons based on self-identification rather than their biological gender
  • Advocating for health and ageing polices that consult with LGBTQI people to inform policies that are inclusive of LGBTQI people in the NT
  • A connected, informed, and inclusive LGBTQI community