Michelle Lensink

Relationships Register (No 1) Bill

Second Reading: adjourned debate on second reading (continued from 1 December 2016).

6The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 10:03 :03 ): I rise to indicate support for this matter, which is one of a series of SALRI bills before this parliament. In making a few remarks in relation to this particular piece of legislation, I must admit that I have spent some time refreshing my memory about what each piece of legislation does, and a key matter is to provide for a relationships register.

Through the media, we would all be familiar with the very sad case that was brought to our attention about a couple from the UK, one of whom passed away and his partner was then unable to have that relationship recognised, and it is appropriate that we do that. I understand the concerns that members have expressed in relation to potentially recognising marriage relationships even though marriage is a matter for the federal law. Clearly, I am a supporter of gay marriage and hope that that issue is resolved in the affirmative as soon as possible. However, to deny people recognition of their relationships simply because of those reservations is an unreasonable imposition upon them.

There are also some very significant changes for people who are considered as intersex and, once again, I would like to acknowledge the briefing that I think was provided for members on 16 November. I was not previously aware of the particular difficulties faced by intersex people and I am grateful to people from that community, and particularly to the unambiguously titled Organisation Intersex International Australia Limited and its president, Morgan Carpenter, who travelled from New South Wales, for providing us with the information about that.

One of my family members has studied genetics and was a geneticist, so I was familiar with the difficulties of particular genetic diseases, particularly Batten disease, which was the subject of her PhD. But I was not aware of the particular physical problems that intersex people had, so I am grateful to them for providing that information. There is a very good brochure entitled 'Androgen insensitivity syndrome: support and information for those affected by androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) and similar conditions' which is available at www.vicnet.net.au/~aissg.

We were provided with information about the particular problems by people who attended that briefing. There are 40 identified variations on a spectrum. In the past, intersex people have suffered, and probably still suffer, from a number of human rights abuses, including surgery and inappropriate hormone therapy, and often were not provided with proper informed consent for children and parents. I was surprised to learn that intersex people have not been covered by the Equal Opportunity Act, but one of the clauses in this legislation will include them. Also, intersex people often have secondary health issues, such as osteoporosis, chronic fatigue and, clearly, the discrimination that they have undergone from people who do not understand and are unsympathetic to their cause. With those particular remarks, I commend the legislation to the house.

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