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Meet Esther Vale: QUT Graduate and Organiser of Viral LGBTQ+ Rights Queensland Parliament Petition

By February 25, 2021 May 3rd, 2021 No Comments

Esther Vale just graduated from a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Film and Television. She’s also behind a Queensland Parliament petition that has garnered almost 10,000 signatures in just over a week. 

The Petition, Recognise LGBT+ people within the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, launched on the 15th of Feburary 2021 and is sponsored by Maiwar MP, Michael Berkman.

The petition description is as follows:

TO: The Honourable Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, 

Queensland residents draws to the attention of the House that the current legislation is the weakest in the country for recognition of trans and gender diverse people, and should be updated. There are several relatively simple changes that will make a vast increase in inclusivity and acceptance of LGBT+ people.

People should have the right to legally register as they self-identify. This means removing the requirement for a person to undergo sex reassignment surgery to change the sex listed on their birth certificate. The sex marker should also be changed without ‘annotation’, as there is no reason for these documents to out people.

To include people of a third or non-binary gender, birth certificates should at least have an additional ‘X’ option. Queensland should also provide ‘recognised details certificates’ as other States and Territories do.

The cost of making a change to one’s birth certificate is also an issue and functions as a prohibitive ‘trans tax’. The limit of one name change per year can also be a roadblock for trans people, and should be increased or given exceptions for name changes with reason of gender affirmation.

For recognition of same-sex and non-binary parents, the BDMR Act should also remove the requirement for parents to be listed as one mother and one father. A gender-neutral approach here will be more inclusive and accurate.

Your petitioners, therefore, request the House to call upon the Attorney General to action reform of the Act, remove the ‘trans tax’, and fix the Registry’s processes.

I met with Esther over Zoom to speak about the phenomenal response to her petition, and what it’s like to have a petition garner the success it has so far. 

“When I did the research that showed every other state is behind Queensland, I realised we’ve got to catch up.” Esther started with. “I wouldn’t have thought we were last but we are.”

She went on to speak about the petition, stating that she has been completely blown away, and says that this huge response really shows how much solidarity is in the community, in regards to rights for trans and gender diverse people. She was also quick to mention a petition from another Queensland trans activist, Lorelei Tuxworth, whose Change.org petition  to Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, arguing that sex reassignment surgery shouldn’t be necessary to change gender on a birth certificate, ammassed 23,000 signatures last year.

Esther says that that, “it’s bigger than any one person,” and that it is, “so much better to have so many people on the campaign.” Her humility is a testament to her dedication to the cause she is fighting for and her commitment to this change in legislation. 

While this petition is sponsored by Greens MP, Michael Berkman, Esther stresses that this issue is bigger than any political party. “This issue shouldn’t be partisan – I hope wholeheartedly the AG introduces the legislation outside of party politics,” She says. Esther also said that she was grateful to have Berkman be fully supportive of her petition. 

Michael Berkman MP has been vocal across his social media pages in promotion of the petition. On a Facebook post, he says, “I’m so proud to be sponsoring Esther’s petition and grateful for all the support we’ve had so far. Parliament returns next week, so keep it up and let’s bring Qld LGBT+ recognition into the 21st century!”

Michael Berkman MP and Esther Vale with their Courier Mail Article

Despite the petition having almost a month left open, it has already caught the attention of the Attorney General, confirming that they will definitely introduce updated legislation to the Deaths, Births and Marriages Registry Act, but did not specify which pieces of legislation, as Esther highlighted many aspects of the Act that were defunct in her petition description. 

This petition has the support of the QUT Guild Queer Collective. Their statement is plain and simple; “Queensland is the lowest-ranking state in Australia for recognition of trans and gender-diverse people. Let’s change that in 2021.”

The Petition is open until the 23rd of March, 2021. If you would like to sign this petition and have not already, you can access it here.

Glass note: Glass is a safe space for queer, trans, and non-binary people, and vehemently opposes transphobia in all of its forms. Any comments that display transphobia will not be tolerated on this post and will be removed.

Em Readman

Em Readman

Em Readman is a writer from Brisbane, Australia. She is an editor of GLASS Magazine, and is completing a Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of Fine Art.

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