On 27 August 2021, we sent the City of Sydney Council our petition asking them to restore the Feminist Legal Clinic’s accommodation grant:
Dear Lord Mayor,
I write on behalf of thousands of Australians to express our concern regarding the City of Sydney Council’s decision to revoke the accommodation grant of the Feminist Legal Clinic.
After running a petition for less than two weeks, nearly three thousand people have signed to indicate that they share the Clinic’s concerns about the impact of harmful gender policies and practices on women and children and find it unacceptable that it has been punished simply for holding that biological sex matters.
Trans people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, but so do women and girls. Many women are greatly troubled by biological males accessing single-sex female spaces (such as shelters, prisons, bathrooms), the unfair and unsafe participation of trans athletes in women’s sport, the medical transitioning of children (who are disproportionately teenage girls), and the silencing and harassment of women who speak out about these things. As a result, we expect the petition to attract many more signatures.
Together with those who have signed the petition so far, I ask that you restore the Clinic’s grant so that it can get on with its valuable legal work in protecting vulnerable women.
Chief Executive Officer
On 1 September 2021, we received the following response from the Council’s Chief Executive Officer:
Dear Ms Wong,
Thank you for your support of the Feminist Legal Clinic.
Each year, the City of Sydney coordinates an annual performance review with Accommodation Grants Program recipients to review their performance against the criteria in their lease or licence agreements.
In 2020, the annual review found the Feminist Legal Clinic did not fully meet its performance criteria or conditions of its licence. The City worked with the Clinic over 12 months to assist it in meeting its performance criteria.
The 2021 annual performance review found that this situation had not changed. Unfortunately, the Clinic had again not satisfactorily met the Accommodation Grants Program general performance criteria over the past 12 months.
The City worked with the Feminist Legal Clinic to implement the decision of Council to end their tenancy.
Chief Executive Officer
The Council’s response is disappointing, but unfortunately not surprising. It’s a shame that Ms Barone’s call to abandon ideology in the city planning context was not equally applied to the Council’s Accommodation Grants Program.
“Every day we hear people within our community express their growing dissatisfaction with the way decisions are being made by elected representatives. The belief government is driven by ideology rather than the public interest is leading to high levels of distrust,” she said in 2019.
The Council’s decision to terminate the Clinic’s grant for what appears to be ideological differences regarding transgender issues, only serves to further entrench such distrust.
We will continue to raise awareness about this issue and to speak up for women being silenced who hold that biological sex matters.