Tasmanian lesbian fighting for female only spaces

Jessica Hoyle is a Tasmanian feminist and lesbian who is fighting for the right to hold events that exclude “people with a penis”.

Her application for exemption was refused by Sarah Bolt, the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (“the Commissioner”) on July 6, 2021. The commissioner said that sex is not a protected attribute under the act.

It was then referred to the Tasmanian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (TasCAT).

The case of A Complaint under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 Jessica Hoyle was set for a directions conference on Wednesday July 6, 2022. Hoyle has been told that she can expect a decision in writing within four months. She intends to proceed to the High Court if she is not successful in gaining the exemption and has set up crowdfunding in anticipation.

In speaking about the case Hoyle said she is wanting protected spaces for females.

“I just want to exclude individuals who are male, regardless of their

gender identity. Females are welcome no matter how they identify and regardless of any intersex variation.”

Lawyers for Ms Hoyle have submitted that the Commissioner erred in her determination of the application and that constitutional questions are raised by this application of the protections in relation to gender identity which creates a conflict with provisions of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act. 

Kat Karena of LGB Alliance Australia says: “We support Jessica’s application because we support the right of lesbians to have events which are exclusively for females and for there to continue to be single sex spaces and facilities for women generally.”

“Gender or Gender identity is a socially constructed concept that should not be confused or conflated with sex which is a biological reality. Women’s right to single sex toilets, changerooms, domestic violence services and lesbian meetups should not be undermined by the protections against gender identity discrimination.”

Hoyle has labelled the commissioner’s stance as ‘homophobic’ because lesbianism relies on biology, not ideology.