Australia election candidate vows to ‘protect children’ from transgender law

Liberal candidate Kristy Johnson

An election candidate in Tasmania, Australia, has come under fire over an ad that vows to “protect children” from a new transgender law.

Kristy Johnson, the Liberal candidate for Pembroke in Tasmania, put out official flyers addressing transgender issues.

Her ad states one of her priorities as “protecting your children,” under which she lists “mandatory sentencing for paedophiles” and “against the removal of gender on birth certificates.”

The reference to gender comes after the Tasmanian legislature passed a progressive new gender recognition law, which faced opposition from the state government.

Australia election candidate Kristy Johnson  slammed for ‘demonising’ trans rights

Martine Delaney of trans advocacy group Transforming Tasmania said that the election ad violates a personal pledge from Tasmania’s Liberal Premier Will Hodgman, who assured her the party would not “politicise and pander to anti-transgender prejudice.”

She said: “Kristy Johnson’s ads violate Will Hodgman’s personal commitment to me that this kind of demonisation of transgender human rights would not occur again.

“I call on the Premier to honour his commitment by intervening immediately to withdraw this damaging and divisive election material.”

Australia election candidate Kristy Johnson against trans rights

Australia election candidate Kristy Johnson.

Transforming Tasmania spokesperson Roen Meijers said: “The birth certificate law reform that Parliament recently passed actually helps young people live free from discrimination and poses no threat to anyone.

“The real threat to young people is from election material that stirs up prejudice against them, like the ads from Kristy Johnson.

“The Liberal Party should apologise for the damage that has been caused to those transgender and gender diverse young people whose lives are already difficult enough.”

Tasmania narrowly passed progressive gender recognition law

The gender recognition law passed on April 10 permits people 16 or older to change their registered gender, removing requirements for transgender people to undergo surgery in order to have their legal gender recognised.

The landmark reforms also boost anti-discrimination protections for trans people, and give new parents the option to leave gender off of birth certificates.

The bill passed by a vote of 13-12, after Liberal Party of Australia speaker Sue Hickey sided with opposition Labor and Greens MPs in backing reforms against the wishes of the Liberal government.

Premier of Tasmania and the state’s Liberal Party leader Will Hodgman previously hit out at opposition from Labor and the Greens for “hijacking” the parliamentary agenda, claiming the bill includes “legally untested, unconsulted and highly problematic changes that we could not support.”

Tasmania was the last Australian state to decriminalise gay sex, doing so in 1997. Prior to that, gay sex could be punished with up to 21 years in jail.