Police in Australia's Victoria state drew conservatives' ire Wednesday by accepting the application of a transsexual to join the force, Agence France-Presse reports. Police officials defended the right of the unnamed applicant--described in press reports as a male who dresses as a woman and plans to undergo a sex-change operation--to apply for a job. "We try to attract people with strong values, integrity, intelligence, compassion, and life experience," said police human resources director Sanjib Roy.
"And we want to make sure we don't discriminate on the basis of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or religion, as this would be contrary to equal opportunity laws," Roy told a local radio station.
The Herald Sun reported that the man had already passed the initial academic test for entry to the force as well as a second stage involving a medical exam, criminal record check, and interview.
The police force's open-minded attitude on the issue drew fire from the leader of Victoria's conservative opposition leader, Robert Doyle. "I don't think it's appropriate," Doyle told reporters. "I think that most people around the state would say to themselves [that] while people have the right to express themselves for any sexual orientation...that doesn't automatically give you an open door to any of our services, like the police force," he said.
Gender identity legislation in Victoria says a person who chooses to be female is deemed to be female and entitled to be treated as such, even before surgery. A police union spokesman, Paul Mullet, said his members would initially be shocked by the news but would ultimately judge the person on her merits.
"This is one single issue facing Victoria police, and really, if the person can do the job, then there is no problem," he said.