The Victorian Government's Taskforce for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Victorians’ LGBTI Justice Working Group 2015-17 held its seventh meeting on 17 October 2016.

Specific topics considered

The Justice Working Group discussed a proposal developed by the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages for relationship registration ceremonies under the Relationships Act 2008 (the Act). The Act was amended earlier this year to clarify the power of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to provide additional services in connection with any ceremony to celebrate the registration of a domestic relationship.

Justice Working Group members also commented on a draft health care policy for prisoners who are trans, gender diverse or intersex, which is being developed by the Department of Justice & Regulation (DJR).

Justice Working Group members were briefed by DJR on the Victorian Government's Access to Justice Review. The aim of the Review is to improve access to justice for Victorians with an everyday legal problem or dispute, and ensure that the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the community receive the support they need when engaging with the law and the justice system. Justice Working Group members welcomed the recommendation in the Review that the Victorian Government include legal triage and services in the proposed Pride Centre in order to provide tailored and specialist legal information, education, referrals, and legal advice to LGBTI people and to deliver LGBTI cultural competency training to legal service providers.

The Working Group discussed progress on implementing recommendation 169 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence Report. Recommendation 169 recommends that the ‘Victorian Government, in the context of its commitment to review equal opportunity and birth certificate laws, examine the need to clarify relevant provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) to remove any capacity for family violence accommodation and service providers to discriminate against LGBTI Victorians’.

The Working Group also discussed the progress of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 (the Bill) through Parliament. The Bill would enable more adults who want to alter their recorded sex to do so without having to undergo invasive surgery or forsake their legal relationship with their spouse, and enables children to have a birth certificate that reflects their affirmed gender. Appropriate safeguards are included in the proposed reforms to preserve the integrity of the Register of Births. The Working Group emphasised the importance of the reforms in the Bill, which recognise the inherent dignity and autonomy of a person applying for a new birth certificate that is most appropriate and meaningful to them and which promote the right to equality.

Next Meeting

The Justice Working Group will reconvene for its next meeting on 12 December 2016. 

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