Australia’s highest court has ruled that a person can be legally recognised as gender neutral as opposed to male or female, ending a long legal battle by a sexual equality campaigner.
The Telegraph reports : “The High Court… recognises that a person may be neither male nor female, and so permits the registration of a person’s sex as ‘non-specific’,” it said in a unanimous judgement, dismissing a New South Wales state appeal to recognise only men or women.
“The case centred on a person called Norrie — who does not identify as either male or female — who fought a legal battle for a new gender-neutral category. Norrie, who uses only a single name, was born male and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1989 to become a woman.But the surgery failed to resolve Scottish-born Norrie’s ambiguity about their sexual identity, prompting a push for the recognition of a new, non-traditional gender.The campaigner made global headlines in February 2010 when an application to the NSW Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages accepted that “sex non-specific” could be accepted for Norrie’s records.But soon afterwards the office revoked its decision, saying the certificate was invalid and had been issued in error. At the time, Norrie said the decision felt like being “socially assassinated”.That sparked a series of appeals which resulted in the NSW Court of Appeal recognising Norrie as gender neutral last year, a decision which the High Court backed on Wednesday. Norrie’s lawyers argued in court that the activist was “being forced to live a lie” every time their client filled out a document that listed only two options for gender. Continue reading “Australian court recognizes gender neutrality”
Is compulsory voting in a democracy a contradiction in terms?
That is the question some Australians have been asking since voting became required by law here nearly a century ago, reports the BBC today.
“The right to vote is a freedom fiercely sought by people all over the world, but Australians do not have a choice. The continent is part of a small minority of just 23 countries with mandatory voting laws. Only 10 of those enforce them.
“Registering to vote and going to the polls are legal duties in Australia for citizens aged 18 and over, and failing to do so can result in a fine and potentially a day in court. Opponents of the system like Libertarian columnist Jason Kent say this stifles political freedom and threatens the basic principles of democracy.
“People have been sentenced to jail terms for not voting. It’s disgusting. It’s far from being democratic. We are not a democracy if we can’t vote democratically.” But Dr Peter Chen, who teaches politics at the University of Sydney, warns that this type of heated rhetoric blows things out of proportion. He says showing up to the polls every so often is not a huge burden.
“The system demonstrates a social expectation that at a minimum everyone needs to participate every few years and that’s a good thing.”
“Failing to vote in Australia may result in a fine or a day in court. Although small, the A$20 (about $18, £12) fine is enough to drive voters to the polls in substantially greater numbers than countries with voluntary vot Supporters of the system say Australia boasts some of the highest civic participation the word over, with a reported 94% voter turn-out in the last federal election, compared to about 65% in the UK’s 2010 general election and an estimated 57% in the 2012 US presidential election. Continue reading “Compulsory voting in Australia”
A new Veteran Mental Health Strategy to support contemporary Australian veterans and their families was released Monday by Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon, reports Xinhuanet.
“The strategy sets out a ten-year framework for providing mental health care to veterans, underpinning the 26.4 million Australian dollars (25.89 million U.S. dollars) veteran mental health package announced in the 2013 federal budget.
“Initiatives include 14.6 million Australian dollars (14.32 million U.S. dollars) to extend access to treatment without the need for compensation claims and 6.4 million Australian dollars (6. 28 million U.S. dollars) to introduce counselling for peacetime service and family groups.
“The launch also coincided with the inaugural meeting of the Veteran Mental Health Clinical Reference Group, which will support the implementation of the strategy. Snowdon said supporting the mental health needs of all veterans, including those who have recently left the defence force, is a high priority for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Continue reading “New mental health support for Aussie vets”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pinned her government’s re-election hopes on a new welfare program for the disabled, proposing on Wednesday a new tax to better fund care for Australians with severe physical and mental disabilities, reports the Associated Press
“The tax would not be paid until July 1, 2014. Gillard said legislation to create the tax would not be considered by Parliament before general elections on Sept. 14.
“Opinion polls agree Gillard’s center-left Labor Party government is unlikely to retain power. While the conservative opposition supports the concept of a new disability support fund, it opposes a new tax to pay for it.
“Gillard had rejected a new tax last year but said Wednesday the government could not fund the program through savings because company tax revenue was falling billions of dollars short of Treasury Department forecasts due to the cooling mining boom and a strong Australian dollar damaging business competitiveness Continue reading “Gillard’s disability gambit”
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has delivered a historic national apology in parliament to the thousands of unwed mothers who were forced by government policies to give up their babies for adoption over several decades, reports Al Jazeera
“More than 800 people cried and cheered as they listened to the apology in the Great Hall of Parliament House on Thursday. They responded with a standing ovation when it was finished.
“A national apology was recommended a year ago by a senate committee that investigated the impacts of the now-discredited policies. Continue reading “Australia’s forced adoptions”
Australia is to introduce tough penalties, including jail sentences of up to 25 years, to confront what it says is a growing trade in sex slaves, reports The Guardian.
“The crackdown follows increasing evidence of young Asian women being brought to Australia and forced into sex slavery in Sydney’s red light King’s Cross district and other state capitals. Continue reading “Australia cracks down on modern-day slavery”
Today Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told her nation the world was about to end:
“My dear remaining fellow Australians, the end of the world is coming. It wasn’t Y2K, it wasn’t even the carbon price,” Gillard said, referring to her controversial environmental tax on business. “It turns out that the Mayan calendar was true.”
“Whether the final blow comes from flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell-beasts or from the total triumph of K-Pop, if you know one thing about me it is this — I will always fight for you to the very end,” Gillard added in the mock-apocalyptic warning, carried by Australian radio station Triple-J..
But there’s always a silver lining: “And at least this means I won’t have to do [political talk show] Q&A again.”
Read more: http://www.upi.com/blog/2012/12/06/Australian-PM-Julia-Gillards-warns-of-zombie-K-pop-induced-apocalypse/2531354802605/#ixzz2EJ7sDjV7