Media release: “Equality” Bill overwhelmingly rejected by NSW residents

Media release: “Equality” Bill overwhelmingly rejected by NSW residents

Today, the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Community Services tabled its report inquiring into Independent MP Alex Greenwich’s Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill 2023, recommending that Parliament proceeds to consider the Bill.

The Bill, which makes a significant number of changes to 20 different pieces of legislation, was sent to an inquiry on 13 March 2024 after significant backlash from the public both regarding its substance and the process surrounding it, including concerns that consultation had been rushed and one-sided.

“For a report that is meant to assist MPs’ understanding of the Bill’s proposed amendments prior to parliamentary debate, it surprisingly contains no detailed analysis of its legal implications,” said Women’s Forum Australia (WFA) CEO Rachael Wong.

“Rather than alleviating concerns about the Bill, the inquiry and report have further confirmed them.”

The report includes concerns from the NSW Government highlighting numerous instances in which the Bill may have “unintended consequences” and present “operational issues”, or in which the subject matter at hand was too complex for Parliament to consider without a more comprehensive review.

Of particular note is the response to the Committee’s online survey, in which an overwhelming majority rejected the Bill and each of the amendments it proposes. Of the 13,258 respondents, 85.13% were opposed to the Bill overall, 13.48% were in support, 0.89% supported with amendments, and 0.51% were neutral or undecided. The responses showed intense opposition to the introduction of sex self-ID, further liberalised prostitution, overseas commercial surrogacy, and amendments making it easier for minors to access puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones without parental consent.

Substantive concerns raised by WFA and others about the harms posed by the reforms – particularly to women and children –  were unable to be addressed by those in favour of the Bill.

Given the complexity and far-reaching consequences of the proposed amendments for all NSW residents, the speed with which the inquiry was undertaken and the handpicked stakeholder list for submissions reinforce initial concerns about the flawed consultation process.

“Due to the exclusive nature of the inquiry, many NSW individuals and organisations were denied the opportunity to make submissions on the Bill,” said Ms Wong. “Meanwhile, the Bill’s author Alex Greenwich, was not only allowed to make a submission and afforded his own slot at the public hearing, he was also allowed to go unchallenged by the Committee in relation to outlandish claims like ‘This reform is about changing a few words in a few Acts’. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“On all the evidence put before it, the Committee should have unequivocally reached the conclusion that the Bill should not proceed for debate in Parliament. It is plagued with problems and has been overwhelmingly rejected by NSW residents. The Bill’s dystopian reforms are not what ‘equality’ looks like, especially not for women and children.”



Further information and quotes regarding WFA’s substantial concerns with the Bill

The introduction of sex self-ID will allow anyone to change their legal sex. This includes children, in some cases, without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Men will be able to legally identify as women and access female-only spaces including bathrooms, changing rooms, refuges, and prisons, effectively eradicating women-only spaces.

“Sex self-ID laws are utterly incompatible with efforts to end violence against women,” said Ms Wong. “We have already seen the tragic consequences of sex self-ID laws and policies overseas and in other states, where women and girls have been forced to share intimate female-only spaces with males, and have even been sexually assaulted in what should be female-only spaces.” 

“Take for example the male sex offender who is currently being housed in a women’s prison in Victoria, or the parents contacting me throughout the country who are concerned about their daughters being forced to share school bathrooms and accommodation with male students who claim they’re female.”

“And that is to say nothing of the women and girls who are losing out on sporting awards and places to male athletes, or the inevitable distortion of data collection.”

While NSW considers heading down the sex self-ID path, today UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that his party will protect women’s spaces and clarify that sex in law means biological sex.

Reforms to further liberalise prostitution will remove protections for prostituted persons (the majority of whom are women), as well as for the wider community.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem, has recently released a report examining violence against women and sexual exploitation as a form, cause and consequence of prostitution.

In the report, Ms Alsalem highlights the positive impact of the abolition approach, also known as the “Nordic” or “equality model”, implemented in countries like Sweden, Canada, France and Ireland, which recognises the inherently exploitative, discriminatory and harmful nature of prostitution, and as a result decriminalises prostituted persons, shifts criminal responsibility onto buyers and third parties, and seeks to help those trapped in the industry. She also notes that Countries that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution have recorded higher rates of sex trafficking, violence, abuse and rape and increased prospects for money laundering and drug trafficking.”

“So why is Alex Greenwich seeking to further deregulate prostitution, when this has been shown to harm, rather than help, women, and when progressive countries are trying to combat, rather than foster, this abhorrent form of sexual exploitation and violent commodification of women’s bodies?” asked Ms Wong.

Finally, proposals to remove bans on overseas commercial surrogacy are at odds with the federal ban on commercial surrogacy throughout Australia, and the Federal Parliament’s finding that “even with the best of regulatory intentions, there is still significant potential for the exploitation of surrogates and children to occur.” They also disregard scandals involving Australians buying babies overseas, including those where babies have been abandoned, as well as the scandal concerning a leading surrogacy clinic in Greece, which was raided over allegations of human trafficking and fraud.

“Legalising overseas commercial surrogacy, is a greenlight for exploiting and commodifying vulnerable women from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds as wombs for rent and children as products for sale,” said Ms Wong.

See Women's Forum Australia's submission on the Bill.


Media enquiries contact: Women's Forum Australia CEO Rachael Wong, [email protected] 

Women’s Forum Australia is an independent think tank that undertakes research, education and public policy advocacy on issues affecting women and girls, with a particular focus on addressing behaviours and practices that are harmful and abusive to them. We are a non-partisan, non-religious, tax-deductible charity. We do not receive any government funding and rely solely on donations to make an impact. Support our work today.

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