Open letter to Anthony Chisholm, Nita Green, and Murray Watt, Labor Senators for Queensland, 22 February 2022

Dear Senator [Chisholm / Green / Watt],

I hope you are well.

I am writing to you concerning the Sex Discrimination Amendment and Other Legislation (Save Women’s Sport) Bill 2022, moved by Senator Claire Chandler (Liberal—Tasmania) on 10 February. The Bill is the subject of renewed national media coverage after Prime Minister Scott Morrison endorsed it while campaigning in the Division of Lyons earlier today (Bower et al., 2022).

The Bill is unnecessary. The problem which it is nominally intended to solve does not exist; organisers of women’s sports are already permitted to exclude trans women if in their opinion there is a functional basis to do so (Knott, 2022). The Bill further breaks unappealing new ground in the persecution of transgender people by providing, for the first time, for discrimination against trans children under the age of 12 (Martin, 2022).

To be blunt, I have been deeply dissatisfied by Labor’s performance on the issue of LGBTQ+ rights and wellbeing during the 46th Parliament. I was displeased to hear that a number of policies materially essential to the wellbeing of queer and trans people were dropped from the National Platform in early 2021 on the personal initiative of the Leader of the Opposition (Harris, 2021). I was further incensed by Federal Labor’s tepidity on the recent Religious Discrimination Bill 2022, which could justifiably have been construed as game-playing, and which extended to a willingness to pass the Bill unamended even if Labor’s amendments failed (Karp, 2022). One might be forgiven for thinking that Caucus’ failure to agree on even symbolic opposition to a Bill rolling back the existing rights of queer and trans Australians, including children, represented Labor “abandon[ing] its commitment to social justice” (Emerson & Weatherill, 2019, p. 38).

For myself, I am politically far enough left that there are some parts of the Greens’ platform I consider uncomfortably far right. Nonetheless, I regularly preference Labor above the Coalition. Lately, however, I have begun to wonder whether it ought not to be otherwise. I am fully aware that the Liberal Party, with which my MP caucuses, is the party directly responsible for my people’s situation. However, I now know that in the event that the Liberal party room decides to strip away our rights, up to 5 MPs will cross the floor. If a simple majority of Caucus decides to allow the Liberal Party to proceed, it appears that the number of rebels will be 0. Paradoxically, Labor has shown less willingness to keep us safe than the Coalition, the bloc whose primary objective is our endangerment.

I do not appreciate being put in this position. I am currently finding it impossible to trust the Labor Party. I imagine a number of other transgender people do not trust the Party either. I am asking you to work to repair that. Specifically, I am asking you to proactively advocate in Caucus and in your community for the preservation and where necessary and judicious the consolidation of the rights which transgender people already enjoy and those which they clearly deserve and need. I am asking you to do the necessary work in the Party that, should this Bill be considered by the Senate again, especially at present but generally for the rest of your tenure in office, you are able to vote against it.

I am asking you to do this because I and many others want to be able to vote for you. Please don’t let us down.

Sincerely yours,
Isabelle Moreton
(address withheld)

References

Bower, S., Morrison, S., & Ley, S., et al. (2022, February 22). Press conference Triabunna, TAS: Transcript. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 22 February 2022.

Emerson, C., & Weatherill, J. (2019, November). Review of Labor’s 2019 Federal election campaign. Australian Labor Party. Retrieved 22 February 2022.

Harris, R. (2021, March 11). Albanese’s slimmed down policy platform lashed by LGBTI community. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 February 2022.

Karp, P. (2022, February 9). Anthony Albanese warns religious discrimination bill could ‘drive us apart’ as Labor pushes for amendments. The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2022.

Knott, M. (2022, February 22). Morrison backs bill excluding female trans athletes from women’s sport. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 February 2022.

Martin, S. (2022, February 22). Scott Morrison backs bill that allows exclusion of transgender people from single-sex sports. The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2022.


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