LGBTQ Australians and their allies are up in arms over a remark by the nation's new prime minister, Scott Morrison, that a proposal to review gender documentation requirements is "nonsense."
The Labor Party, which is the opposition party to Morrison's governing Liberal Party (the Liberal Party is actually conservative), included the plan for review in its recently released draft platform, Reuters reports. Morrison denounced the idea on Twitter this week and characterized it as removing gender.
\u201c[1/2] A Liberal National Government will never remove gender from birth certificates, licenses and passports \u2013 who are Labor kidding? Get real. \n\nhttps://t.co/CLk70qL3rI\u201d
\u201c[2/2] This is the problem with Labor, obsessed with nonsense like removing gender from birth certificates rather than lower electricity prices, reducing tax for hard-working families and small businesses.\u201d
The platform actually calls for review of documentation requirements for passports, birth certificates, and other legal papers in order to assure equal rights for transgender and intersex people. Australia already includes a nonbinary option on passports and birth certificates. Lawmakers in the Australian state of Tasmania are considering the removal of gender from birth certificates, and driver's licenses in the states of Queensland and New South Wales are already genderless.
'The platform talks about making sure all Australians are treated equally,' a Labor Party spokesman told the Daily Mail's Australian edition, adding that no one is talking about removing gender on a national basis.
The proposal, as quoted by the Mail, seeks to provide for "equal enjoyment of human rights without discrimination and to promote identification options" and to assure that "people with intersex variations are able to exercise autonomy regarding sex/gender markers, and obtain identification options that match their sex characteristics and/or gender identities, as preferred."
Several activists have pushed back against Morrison's comments.
"Yet again, we see a destructive statement from someone in a position of prominence and influence," Sally Goldner, a spokeswoman for Transgender Victoria, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation Friday.
"To attempt to link the words transgender and nonsense is vilification and totally inappropriate," she added.
Ross Murray of GLAAD told the foundation, "This community is not nonsense, but real, everyday Australians who deserve to be treated with respect."
Alex Greenwich, a Labor member of Parliament, clapped back at Morrison via Twitter.
\u201cMaybe @ScottMorrisonMP should focus on being Prime Minister for all Australians, stop spreading misinformation about the gender diverse community, and start uniting rather than dividing Australians #didyoulearnnothingfromwentworth\u201d
— Alex Greenwich MP (@Alex Greenwich MP)
Morrison, who became prime minister in August following the ouster of Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party, has made anti-transgender comments previously. In September, in response to reports that teachers are being trained to identify transgender children, he tweeted that schools do not need "gender whisperers." He received widespread criticism for the remark.