Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has weighed into the debate over One Nation MP Mark Latham’s ‘Trans Erasure Bill’ in NSW, comparing the legislation to Britain’s infamous Section 28.
In an exclusive op-ed for the Sentinel published today, the Melbourne-born, London-based activist urged political parties to oppose the Latham bill, which is officially known as the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill.
Latham’s private member’s bill, introduced to NSW parliament in August, seeks to amend the Education Act 1990, the Teacher Accreditation Act 2004 and the Education Standards Authority Act 2013 to prohibit schools from teaching that trans and gender diverse people exist and should be treated with respect.
It would also prohibit school counsellors from providing support to trans and gender diverse students, allow parents to withdraw their children from classes which affirm LGBT+ students, and put teachers at risk of losing their jobs if they support trans or gender diverse students.
In his piece for the Sentinel, Tatchell – who has campaigned for human rights sInce the late 1960s – wrote: “I urge Australia’s political parties to … reject any legislation, including from Mark Latham, that leaves LGBT+ pupils unsupported and gives a green light to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.”
Tatchell drew direct comparisons between the Latham bill and the UK’s Section 28 legislation, which prevented British schools and local councils from ‘promoting’ homosexuality from 1988 to 2003 .
“This left a whole generation of LGBT+ youth unsupported and resulted in many suffering anxiety, depression and thoughts of self harm,” wrote Tatchell.
“As these damaging effects became apparent, eventually even the Conservatives renounced Section 28, with Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May publicly apologising for the legislation,” he said.
In adding his voice to the debate, Tatchell joins organisations and individuals such as the just.equal, the Gender Centre, ACON, Equality Australia and noted LGBT+ rights advocate Rodney Croome AM, in opposing the legislation.
A parliamentary inquiry into the bill is ongoing and will hold public hearings before the bill is voted upon.
The Gender Centre and the just.equal group have launched an initiative urging NSW political leaders to reject the Latham/One Nation bill, while an online petition to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is calling on her to defend trans and gender diverse children against the legislation.
This article was amended at 6:27pm, Thursday 17 September. An earlier version reported that the Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney supported the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill. While the Sentinel has received anecdotal reports that this is the case, the Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney has not to date publicly issued any statement in support of this bill.
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