Transgender discrimination complaint dropped against senator
A discrimination complaint against Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler over her comments on female change rooms and transgender women has been dropped.
The complainant contacted Equal Opportunity Tasmania today to withdraw the complaint, after a conciliation hearing scheduled for yesterday was cancelled.
Senator Chandler had declined to sign a confidentiality agreement for the meeting and it was cancelled by the Equal Opportunity Commission.
"I am saddened by this because dialogue is the path to a more inclusive Tasmania, and no-one wins from polarisation and division," the complainant said in a statement today.
"Because conciliation and dialogue will no longer occur, and because I do not have the legal, financial or other resources of the Senator, I will withdraw my complaint rather than proceeding further."
He said his intent had been to "stand in solidarity with other Tasmanians I care about".
The Mercury has previously reported Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Sarah Bolt had accepted the complaint, but had ruled part of the complaint not valid because the individual is not a member of the trans-community.
Senator Chandler said she learnt the complaint had been dropped today via the media.
"I am both relieved at this outcome and furious at the abuse of process which has occurred," she said.
But she said it "leaves the broader community in legal limbo around what statements members of the public can make about sex-based rights".
She called on the Commissioner to clarify that Tasmanians "are able to discuss the reality of biological sex and advocate for sex-based rights".
"If this does not occur, there will continue to be a chilling effect on free speech in Tasmania," Senator Chandler said.
The senator also said the Anti-Discrimination Act should be amended to prevent conciliation hearings being used as a tactic "in the case of frivolous complaints and in regards to statements made as part of normal political debate and discussion".
The man who submitted a complaint questioned her understanding of the difference between gender and sex and noted her email responding to him was "problematic" for intersex and transgender people.
Equality Tasmania spokesman Charlie Burton said: "We are disappointed Senator Chandler wasn't open to mediation and dialogue, but we continue to urge her to sit down with trans people and our families to hear our stories about how damaging discrimination can be."
He said as a senator for Tasmania she had a responsibility to hear from all her constituents.
Equal Opportunity Tasmania was unable to comment on the matter due to confidentiality provisions under law.
Originally published as Discrimination complaint dropped against Senator