Australia recognizes third sex choice on government documents



Paul Kane

An Australian court ruled Friday that people who identify as neither male nor female can register "non-specific" as a valid gender status on government documents.

The New South Wales Court of Appeal overturned an earlier decision that said a person could not be listed as "non-specific" under Australian law. The court has now ruled that sex does not have a binary meaning of "male" or "female."

The decision was a victory for Sydney-based sexual equality activist Norrie, 52, who brought the appeal to the court. Norrie sought to have a non-sex status included in the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in 2010, and was the first Australian to be given the designation "sex not specified."

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However, that classification was later withdrawn as Norrie's story became more widely known, just four months after the decision was made.

Friday's decision will affect people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery, as well as anyone who identifies as intersex or gender neutral.

The Human Rights Law Centre's Hugh de Kretser said the court's decision would be "persuasive" in legal arguments in other states.

"Agencies, non-government organizations will be looking to apply this more broadly than just in NSW," he said.