Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thrown his support behind biological women in sport at the expense of trans women (biological men) competing against them.
At a campaign event in the seat of Gilmore, Morrison acknowledged that he agreed with the views of the Tasmanian Liberal Senator Claire Chandler. Chandler has a private member’s Bill (known as ‘Save Women’s Sport’) to amend the Sex Discrimination Act with the intent of protecting biological women in sport. The amendment would clarify that discriminating based on biological sex within sport is not discrimination.
The Bill states, ‘This clause is to provide certainty that operating single-sex sport – sporting activity exclusively for either females or males – is not a breach of the Act.’
Morrison has also spoken with the Liberal candidate for Warringah and co-founder of ‘Save Women’s Sport’ Katherine Deves, telling 2GB radio that, “[Deves] was standing up for something really important.”
He went on to add, “Katherine is, you know, an outstanding individual … and she’s standing up for things that she believes in, and I share her views on those topics. I think it’s important that they’re raised and it’s got nothing to do with, you know, the broad agenda debates. This is just about, you know, common sense and what’s right. And I think Katherine’s right on the money there.”
While Morrison’s comments upset a range of left-wing publications and activist groups on social media, he appears to hold the majority position with the Australian public at large who believe that only biological women should be allowed to compete in women’s sport.
Women lobbying to protect women’s sport from male competitors has gained widespread support, not only in Australia, but across the world.
Interest was renewed when transgender swimmer Lia Thomas began resetting records in women’s swimming demonstrating a clear physical advantage. This week, former Olympians, fellow swimmers, and other sports people from the University of Arizona sent a ‘Letter of Concern’ to the NCAA.
‘Do we have a voice? It’s hard to express the anguish the women’s swim community has experienced this past week watching the 2022 NCAA Swim & Dive Championships. On the one hand, we feel we are witnessing irrevocable damage to a sport that has transformed our own identities for the better. On the other, we have reconnected with each other in sisterhood after many busy years living our lives beyond the water’s edge.
‘We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX this year. From the birth of the NCAA in 1906 until 1972, women had to fight to earn the law that provide equal opportunities for women in sports. It took a male to female transgender person one year to take the women’s swimming national championship title. This is not equality. Women’s standings, titles, records, and scholarships are suddenly at risk again.’
Unsurprisingly, Equity Australia came out against Morrison’s comments, presenting a survey of 5,600 LGBTQ+ people who would ‘change their vote’ given the remarks.
“Politicians must learn that there is nothing to be gained by refusing to stand up for LGBTIQA+ people or using debate about our lives to score cheap political points. The political parties that wish to form government this coming election must commit to governing for all Australians, and to ensuring that every person in Australia can live their life, with dignity and respect, no matter who they are or whom they love,” said Anna Brown.
Morrison’s comments were not about people being free to choose which gender they identify as in their ordinary lives, his comments were specifically directed toward protecting biological women in women’s sport.
With roughly half of all voters in Australia women, many of them have expressed relief that something is being done to protect the rights of women in sport – something that the feminist movement fought for decades to achieve.
There is a Culture War taking place – or at least, a battle – between feminists and the extreme fringe of the trans community. While Morrison has said that he has no interest in ‘fighting the Culture Wars’ directly, a Conservative Liberal Leader throwing his support behind women and their rights in sport is unlikely to do Morrison’s vote any damage. If anything, it is probably a popular move, based on social media chatter from his voting base.