Conservatives in New South Wales propose censorship law

9 November 2020 - The conservative Australian politician Mark Latham has proposed a law for the state of New South Wales that will forbid education about gender fluidity. The proposal harms trans and gender diverse students by denying their existence and prevents teachers and counsellors from supporting them. It allows parents to withdraw their child from a class or program which tells them LGBTIQ+ people are just like everyone else.

Proposed censorship

According to Equality Australia, the bill:

  1. prohibits schools from teaching that gender fluidity (referring to trans and gender diverse people) exists and should be treated with respect;
  2. prohibits school counsellors from affirming a trans or gender diverse student or providing them with any support or referrals to gender affirming support;
  3. puts teachers at risk of losing their job when they support a trans or gender diverse student in affirming their identity;
  4. enshrines biological fallacies, describing intersex people as disordered;
  5. allows parents to deny their children access to lessons in public schools which may contradict their political, social or personal values, including their views about LGBTIQ+ people;
  6. requires schools to present discredited counter narratives when teaching classes like science or history. For example, discussing creationism when teaching evolution, raising anti-vaccination theories, or raising racist ideologies to explain the over representation of First Nations people in prison.

Latham’s notorious reputation

Mark Latham is the new leader of One Nation, a right-wing splinter party which is opposed to immigration and holds nationalist values. The party proudly present Lathan as someone who strongly opposes the impact of political correctness and identity politics on public debate. He appears to be a rough type and has been accused several times of hitting and threatening people and of destroying equipment of journalists. He also was reported to downplay the importance of domestic abuse against women. Finally, he publicly commented that one of the boys in a high school video about International Women’s Day looked gay.

Next steps

The proposal has been put forward for comments to the NSW Committee, which will collect comments through a survey in January and February. The Uniting Church LGBTIQ+ Network NSW/ACT has already submitted a critical response, especially with the view that a host of conservative churches are expected to support the proposal. The further discussion steps are not yet clear. However, this proposal is part of a larger body of legislative proposals to give precedence to religious rights over fundamental human rights for everyone.

Sources: The proposed bill, Equality Australia, One Nation on Mark Latham, Wikipedia, Parliament of New South Wales, response of ACT