Attorney General tries to invalidate Norrie’s ‘sex not specified’ legal document
- Published: 18 March 2010
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18 March: Norrie, the Australian, who last week came to global attention as the world’s first sexless person when issued with identity documents stating ‘sex not specified’ has been threatened by the NSW Government with having the document revoked, writes Katrina Fox.
On Tuesday this week Norrie received a telephone call from the NSW Births Death and Marriages Department telling Norrie they were going to try to rescind their decision because of pressure from higher up in the government. On Wednesday Norrie received a letter from the Department confirming this.
Today Norrie, with the support of Sex and Gender Education (SAGE), a lobby group that campaigns for the rights of all sex and/or gender diverse people, lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
The complaint will allege a breach of the Australian 1984 Sex Discrimination Act and a breach of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights that protects a person’s right to self-determine their own social identity, unfettered by the state.
“The NSW government has legally issued the documents,” said Tracie O’Keefe, sexologist and spokesperson for SAGE. “They have no business to now change Norrie’s sex status without Norrie’s consent. No government has the right to change the sex status of any person without that person’s permission. We will fight them through the courts.
“Norrie’s case is a cruel, viciously and politically motivated attack on their identity by the Attorney General to woo right-wing voters in a year when the Rudd Government proposes to fight an election. The actions of the Attorney General show no humanity or human understanding of Norrie’s special situation and lacks all human kindness.
“In 2009 the Australian Human Rights Commission released its report on the legal disadvantages of sex and/or gender diverse people in Australian society – The Sex Files – and made recommendations for changes in government policy and laws. The government has done very little to implement these changes and still sex and/or gender diverse people are often stuck in a legal disadvantaged situation that would not apply to any other sector of society.
“In the report the AHRC recommended that people like Norrie be allowed to have identities that do not specify their sex/or gender. However it seems the Attorney General has dismissed these recommendations and human rights are way down his list of priorities, far below appeasing right-wing Labor party supporters. This is a scandalous abuse of power.
Norrie said: “I’m devastated by the news. The news of my new status has spread as far as Russia and China. The world has seen the Australian government as being compassionate and progressive. Now to have this awful threat hanging over me because the Rudd government is in an election year and pandering to right-wing voters is a breach of my human rights.
“My right to socially differentiate myself is being interfered with by the state. Also I am being harassed by the Rudd Government because of my sex. I will continue to fight for my right through the courts to identify myself in society as the person I truly am ‘Sex Not specified’.”
Greens MP Lee Rhiannon who attended the AHRC along with a group of Norrie's supporters this morning has pledged to raise questions about Norrie's treatment in Parliament today.