Legal problems with Victoria’s new birth certificate gender laws

The Victorian Government has introduced a Bill, the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016, to amend its law on birth certificates to allow changing the gender on the certificate to be made easier. (The Bill was approved by the Lower House on 15 Sept 2016 and is awaiting consideration by the Legislative Council.) There are many problems with the policy represented by this legislation (see a good summary from Murray Campbell, “Victorian Government and Birth Certificates” Oct 26, 2016)). But what I want to focus on here is the interaction of the new law with the law on marriage. In my view the law will create a host of legal uncertainties at best, and is quite likely to be unable to achieve its apparent aim of allowing Victorians born in one sex to live for all purposes as if they were of the other sex.

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Support for Religious Freedom in British Columbia

A society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society — one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal. This case demonstrates that a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism, can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in itself intolerant and illiberal- at [193].

The latest decision in the long-running Trinity Western University law school saga, from the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, is an encouraging development for religious freedom in Canada. In Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of British Columbia,
2016 BCCA 423 (1 Nov 2016) the Court of Appeal held that the decision of the Law Society of British Columbia to refuse accreditation to practice law in the Province, to graduates of a new proposed TWU law school, was unlawful. That decision had been based on the “Community Covenant” required of all students at the confessionally evangelical TWU, to (among other things) “abstain from… sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”. The Court held that the Law Society had failed to give proper consideration to the impact on the religious freedom of TWU students and graduates in making its decision.

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