Motion on transgender women in sports defeated in Queensland Parliament

Friday, May 13, 2022

Parliament House, Brisbane, which houses the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, on December 21, 2019.
Image: User:Kgbo.

The Parliament of Queensland, Australia rejected a motion on Wednesday by the Katter's Australian Party (KAP) that argued allowing transgender women to play in women's sports teams would "erode the integrity of female sport".

The motion stated "anyone who supports biological men playing in female sport, irrespective of age group, level or code, is complicit in eroding the integrity of female sport and therefore women's rights", and that, due to "insurmountable physical advantages", transgender women would "pose an unfair competitive advantage against, and/or safety risk" against other athletes if competing in women's sport.

The motion failed 49 votes to 33, with support from the KAP, the Liberal National Party (LNP), and Pauline Hanson's One Nation, but opposition from the Labor government and the Greens.

KAP leader Robbie Katter first told Parliament he thought the bill was "important for parents", stating: "I'm a parent of some young girls who will be hopefully participating in some sport one day [...] Imagining them at 15 or 17 years old, post-puberty, competing against the odd person who might want to transfer to being female, that doesn't sit well with me." Katter maintained that whilst he did not want to deny anyone the opportunity to compete in sport, "there's a distinct advantage when you cross over". Katter also referred to the coming federal election, saying "in the context of the election, there are social issues on which we need to put a stake in the ground."

Portrait of Hinchliffe from May 22, 2018.
Image: Department of Local Government, Queensland Government.

Queensland Sporting Minister Stirling Hinchliffe opposed the motion, calling it a "blatant dog whistle", and saying: "This is not a debate about sport or women's rights. It is an attempt to cause fear and division and is unnecessarily dragging an extreme right-wing trope into this parliament." Hinchliffe expressed that "making blanket decisions purely based on gender identity is not only draconian and bigoted, but unwarranted".

Representatives from all parties but the LNP spoke in the debate, which lasted for approximately 30 minutes. Sparking interjections from other MPs, KAP Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto speculated that "we may see an opportunity for guys who now identify as women to put on a wig and jump into women's sport because maybe they are washed up at the NRL", and stated that transgender people having "full access" to female sports was neither fair nor safe. One Nation MP Stephen Andrew spoke in favour of the motion, asserting "if someone does not stand up for the rights of these people — either way — the outcome is that there will eventually be no women's sport at all."

The two Greens representatives spoke against the motion. Amy MacMahon, who represents South Brisbane, claimed "this motion today is not about women; it is about stoking up transmisogyny for cheap political tricks", and said "if we are really serious about supporting women’s sports, let's pay women's sportspeople the same as men, show women's sports on free-to-air TV and news coverage and start programs to encourage women and girls to take up sports." Greens leader Michael Berkman called the motion "repugnant" and "unnecessary", and stated: "I think it is telling that we are hearing not a single word from the opposition to speak against it."