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Australian former opposition leader proposes vile anti-trans law banning school children from learning trans people exist

Nick Duffy August 12, 2020
Mark Latham speaks in the NSW Upper House

Mark Latham speaks in the NSW Upper House (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Former Australian opposition leader Mark Latham has submitted a bill to ban the “promotion of gender fluidity” in schools, in a measure chillingly reminiscent of the UK’s Section 28.

The former leader of Australia’s centre-left Labor Party, who now leads the far-right One Nation Party in New South Wales, has submitted a bill to the New South Wales Legislative Council seeking to tap into rising anti-trans sentiment.

The so called Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill prohibits “the teaching of the ideology of gender fluidity to children in schools” — extending to any teaching that refers to gender as anything other than “biological sex”.

Gender fluidity is defined by the draconian bill as “a belief there is a difference between biological sex and human gender, and that human gender is socially constructed rather being equivalent to a person’s biological sex”.

A side-effect of the bill would also allow parents to legally ban schools from teaching their children about gay people, with Latham seeking to establish “parental primacy” over their children’s education relating to “moral and ethical standards, political and social values, and matters of personal wellbeing and identity including gender and sexuality”.

One Nation's Mark Latham is pressing a bill to outlaw 'promotion' of gender ideology
One Nation’s Mark Latham (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

It makes clear: “No child at a government school is to be required to receive any instruction in matters of parental primacy if the parents of the child object to the child’s receiving that instruction.”

The legislation would apply to “government and non-government schools” in the state, with ministers and school inspectors tasked with punishing schools that fail to comply.

Latham was also an opponent of same-sex unions, claiming he was worried the law would allow transgender people to get married to people of the opposite sex.

The politician has made no secret of his anti-transgender stances, vowing to gut laws that allow transgender people to gain legal recognition, and end easy legal recognition on all government forms.

Mark Latham bill would ban teaching about the existence of gender and we’re sure we’ve seen this somewhere before.

Given One Nation hold just two of the 42 seats on the NSW legislative council and zero of the 93 seats on the legislative assembly, the bill is unlikely to make much progress in the Parliament.

However, the bill serves as an eerie warning sign of what may be to come from anti-trans activists elsewhere, where the far-right and anti-LGBT conservatives do hold the balance of power.

Of course, draconian attempts to stifle discussion of LGBT+ issues is nothing new, with tyrants in Russia and Hungary banning the supposed promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” and “gender ideology” respectively.

It is also eerily reminiscent of the UK’s hated Section 28.

The law banning the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools across England, Wales and Scotland, was imposed under Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1988, sparking years of protests. It was ultimately repealed by Labour more than a decade later — in 2000 in Scotland, and in 2003 in England in Wales.

More: Australia, Mark Latham, one nation, transphobia

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