I who may well be...

Musings from the perspective of a human being who may well be not locatable completely within the usual categories of male or female or gay or straight or transsexual or intersexed or exploiter or exploited or supplier or consumer or performer or spectator.

Friday, March 19, 2010

NSW Parliament questions about Norrie

from Hansard Thursday 18 march 2010


Ms LEE RHIANNON: I direct my question without notice to the Attorney General. Considering Norrie, an individual who doctors agree cannot be categorised as male or female, was given a certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages that listed Norrie's sex as "not specified" and considering that Norrie has since received a letter on 16 March from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages stating that it did not have the power to issue certificates showing "not specified" in the sex field, will the Attorney publicly release the legal advice upon which this decision was made? What was the date of the legal advice? Was this legal advice sought before or after extensive media coverage of Norrie's case and if there is a problem with New South Wales laws that preclude Norrie being specified as "sex not specified", will the Attorney act to reform these laws, thereby implementing recommendation 5 of the March 2009 Human Rights Commission Report entitled "The Sex Files" that recommends a person over the age of 18 years should be able to choose to have an unspecified sex noted on documents and records?

The Hon. JOHN HATZISTERGOS: I am very proud of the fact that I sponsored and introduced into this House the Courts and Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill, which amended the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act to enable people who were resident in New South Wales but were born overseas and had a sex affirmation procedure to obtain legal recognition of their change of sex. That was legislation that I sponsored into this Parliament and which was passed. It has enabled people who were born overseas to have a sex affirmation procedure, to have it registered and to have a relevant identification document. They can then use that document when applying for passports, having medical treatment, and dealing with police, emergency care workers and hospital staff, seeking emergency accommodation or Centrelink benefits and representations to financial institutions and insurance companies.

This issue was ventilated in the media and a number of inquiries were made with my office. I can advise that my office sought further information in relation to the matter the member has raised. Following those inquiries being made, the director general of my department discussed the matter with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages and a decision was reached for legal advice to be obtained in relation to the matter. My office was advised of that legal advice, as I understand it, on Monday. The registrar then rang Norrie and advised him of the decision which the member has referred to. I did not speak to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. At no time did I or, I am advised, anyone in my office make any direction to the registrar in relation to the decision that he took. This was made clear in advice from the registry, which states:

Advice received from the Crown Solicitor is that the registrar may only issue a recognised detail certificate or a new birth certificate following a change of sex in either male or female gender. The registrar accepts this advice and has directed that any applications for recognised detail certificates or changes of sex comply with this advice.

In relation to the certificate already issued to Norrie, I am advised that the registrar could request a return of the certificate under section 59 (3) (d) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act since it was issued in error, but has determined in the circumstances that he does not propose to take this action, although he has advised Norrie that the certificate is invalid. I am not aware of any jurisdiction in Australia that, at the moment, captures the specific issue the member has raised. I would need to obtain further advice as to the policy issues and the impact of any change of policy. Ultimately any decision to enact a change to the legislation to facilitate that to occur would require the concurrence of the Parliament.


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