Australian Senate Passes Motion to Ban Gender Neutral Words from Government Materials

March 17, 2021 Updated: March 25, 2021

The Australian Senate has passed a motion by One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts banning the use of “distorted” gender-neutral language like “chest-feeding” and “gestational/non-gestational parent” in official federal government materials.

Roberts’ motion called on the government to reject the use of the terms and to ensure all federal government and federally funded agencies do not include them in legislation, websites, and employee and training materials.

The motion narrowly passed 33-31, with the support of the federal government.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam outlined the government’s position before the vote.

“The government supports the rights of individuals to make use of any pronouns or descriptors they prefer while encouraging respect for the preferences of others,” he said. “The government will use language in communications that are appropriate for the purpose of those communications and is respectful of its audiences.”

The motion noted that human beings’ fundamental biology and relationships are represented through traditional descriptors like “mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, boy, girl, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, female, male, man, woman, lady, gentleman, Mr, Mrs, Ms, sir, madam, dad, mum, husband, wife.”

“Broad-scale genuine inclusion cannot be achieved through distortions of biological and relational descriptors,” the motion said.

“An individual’s right to choose their descriptors and pronouns for personal use must not dehumanise the human race and undermine gender.”

Senator Roberts told The Epoch Times that the transformation from a girl to a woman and a boy to a man was a human biological, emotional, and neurological process that can’t be invalidated because not everyone follows the same path.

“We acknowledge that informed adults ought to have the right to change their gender and choose pronouns that validate how they feel about themselves, but that does not extend to taking away the right for the rest of the population to use pronouns and descriptors that best validate how they feel about themselves,” he said.

“This march towards gender-neutral language is about fashion and control,” Roberts said. “It is not about biology or gender, and we must resist the dangerous move towards dehumanising all of us.”

The motion noted that a Queensland doctor has reported incidents of young children feeling stressed and panicked about whether it was okay to use the words “boy” and “girl.”

“Pushing gender-neutral language is no replacement for appropriate emotional and psychological support for children while growing up,” the motion stated.

Greens Senator Janet Rice was denied a chance to speak on the issue in the Senate by the speaker but she took to Twitter after the vote to criticise the motion.

“I expect this [expletive] from One Nation,” she wrote on Twitter on March 16. “But the Morrison Government just voted to support One Nation’s disgusting, bigoted Senate motion trying to deny the identity of trans [and] non-binary people. So the motion passed. What happened to governing for all Australians? Scumbags!”

Roberts said Rice was entitled to her world view but said it is out of step with most Australians.

“Many of our Green politicians have a starting point of outrage and Senator Rice’s response is just more outrage for the sake of it,” he said. “As federal politicians, we cannot legislate and make good policy decisions from a starting point of outrage.

“Senator Rice’s comments do not bring about inclusiveness, rather it satisfies the misplaced indignation of a tiny number of people.

“It is not progressive for our men, women, mothers, fathers, boys and girls to be expected to give up their right to use those terms,” he said, adding, “This is not inclusive, it is divisive.”

Recently in its “Gender Inclusive Handbook,” the Australian National University’s Gender Institute said that using terms like “mothers” or “fathers” to describe parenthood excludes those who don’t identify with gender-binaries. It said that using women-focused language related to lactation can misgender, isolate, and harm transmasculine parents and non-heteronormative families.

It recommends using the terms “breast/chest feeding” and “human/parent’s milk,” rather than “breastfeeding” and “mother’s milk” to describe lactation.

“When discussing childbirth, use the terms “gestational” or “birthing” parent rather than “mother,” and the terms “non-gestational” or “non-birthing” parent rather than “father,” the handbook said.

Follow Caden on Twitter: @cadenpearson