Transgender Marriage Equality Law Announced

Download this media release (PDF, 41.6 KB)

The LGBTI Legal Service celebrates the announcement by the Queensland Government of changes to be introduced to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 (Qld) this week.

This reform fixes a problematic section of the Act that states:

The reassignment of a person’s sex after sexual reassignment surgery may be noted in the person’s entry in the register of births or adopted children register only if the person is not married.

The LGBTI Legal Service provides free legal advice to Queensland’s LGBTI community on matters relating to their gender identity and sexuality.

The LGBTI Legal Service has provided advice to many transgender clients who were caught in this bizarre and destructive legal technicality.  Until now, we have sadly had to advise clients who want to pursue a change to their gender that they must first seek a divorce. Soon, transgender people will be able to stay married through their gender transition.

President of the LGBTI Legal Service, Matilda Alexander, commented:

Our clients are faced with an impossible choice between embracing their true gender identity by divorcing their supportive partner or continuing to live under the oppression of an official gender that does not match their identity but keeping their marriage.

This change demonstrates the continued journey towards marriage equality for the LGBTI community.  Last year, gay and lesbian Australians fought and won the right to equal love and the announcement will bring marriage equality to transgender people in Queensland as well.

The LGBTI Legal Service continues to call for further reforms of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 and the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to continue these important steps towards equality in Queensland.

Contact: Matilda Alexander (President) –


Applications Open – Law Clerk/Administration Assistant

We are hiring! The LGBTI Legal Service seeks a Law Clerk/Administration Assistant at our Fortitude Valley (Brisbane) office on a casual basis to work two days per week. Please read the position description and selection criteria. Applications should be made by email to by COB on 9 February 2018.

For further details, please see the position description and selection criteria on our website or download this position description (PDF, 519.7 KB)

Apply now!


LGBTI Legal Service announces new location

Australia’s only community legal centre that exists for the LGBTI community has a new name and new office!

New name and premises

The LGBTI Legal Service Inc., formerly known as the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Intersex Legal Service Inc., is excited to continue to provide free legal advice to Queensland’s LGBTI community from its new office at Level 2, 725 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley from 17 January 2018.

725 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley


Service delivery

The Service provides free legal advice and services to people facing legal problems relating to their identification as LGBTI or where they prefer to discuss their legal problems with a solicitor who has specific skills, interest and understanding of issues and barriers faced by the LGBTI community.

The Service’s free legal advice service includes advice on the following areas:

  • family law (separation/relationship breakdowns, children and property settlements);
  • domestic violence;
  • surrogacy and parental rights;
  • criminal law and victims’ support;
  • employment law (including unfair dismissal, workplace bullying and harassment);
  • unlawful discrimination;
  • gender identification; and
  • some civil law matters.

Persons who identify as LGBTI or who have a LGBTI-related legal issue who don’t know where to turn for legal advice or assistance may contact the Service on 07 3124 7160 or by email to The Service offers free legal advice provided by experienced lawyers either face-to-face or by telephone, by appointment, on Wednesdays from 6.15 pm.

In particular cases, the Service may now also be able to take on case work and represent clients.

Christmas closure

The Service will be closed from midday on Friday, 22 December 2017 and will reopen on Wednesday, 3 January 2018.


Emile McPhee – Executive Director –

(This media release was also published at


‘Like Love’ project reveals hotbed of hate speech throughout Marriage Survey period

The LGBTI Legal Service has collected over 220 examples of hate speech throughout the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey in a project aimed at addressing unlawful vilification.

The ‘Like Love’ project has monitored social media, news websites and public spaces to track public statements that incite ridicule or hatred on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity.

“Unfortunately, throughout the Marriage Law Postal Survey it has been virtually impossible for anyone who identifies as queer to avoid exposure to views which condemn who they are as a person,” said Matilda Alexander, President of the LGBTI Legal Service.

Source: ABS via…/AMLPS_survey_form.pdf (CC-BY 2.5 AU)

“The Postal Survey has opened the door to homophobia and vilification being expressed under the guise of legitimate debate.

“Instead of a legitimate debate, the LGBTI community has had to put up with weeks of destructive commentary which only takes society backwards on the progress which has lead to broader acceptance of LGBTI people in the last 30 years,” she explained.

The LGBTI Legal Service has received submissions of hate speech from community members as well as using project workers to monitor spaces.

The hate speech ranges from individual posts on social media pages to neo-Nazi groups plastering posters in various public locations.

The LGBTI Legal Service is now preparing a complaint under anti-discrimination laws.

Media contact

Matilda Alexander – president@lgbtilegalservice.org07 3124 7160


Download this media release (PDF, 664.0 KB)


Righting the wrongs of Queensland’s homophobic past: Government to allow to clear unjust convictions

Overnight, the Queensland Parliament passed a law that will provide a way for people to have convictions for consensual same-sex activity removed from their criminals records.

Emile McPhee, Executive Director of the LGBTI Legal Service, said the Criminal Law (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill 2017 can assist to repair the lifelong trauma people have endured.

“The goal of those reforms is to ensure that individuals affected by those convictions or charges no longer need to disclose them in any circumstances and to go some way towards repairing the significant and lasting harm that these have had on Queenslanders,” said McPhee.

Phil Browne, Convenor of the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group said that it was important to recognise the lasting impact and suffering caused by the historic laws.

“Despite the Legalisation of Gay Sex Act 26 years ago, people with these convictions for consensual activity remain convicted criminals. They haven’t been able to apply for certain jobs or travel to certain countries. They may have endured public arrests leading to being fired, shunned by family and friends, kicked out of accommodation, named in newspapers, and even feeling they were run out of town,” said Browne.

With the new law Queensland joins Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT in providing a system for people to clear their records of unjust convictions.

Peter Black, Vice-President of the Queensland AIDS Council, said the old laws not only impacted upon the individuals convicted for consensual sexual activities, but also contributed to a political climate that sought to marginalise the LGBTIQ community.

“These wounds run deep, which is why it is vital that any expungement scheme be advertised and accessible to a particularly vulnerable cohort of people who have lived through decades of criminalisation, discrimination and stigma,’ said Black.

For those who have died with their convictions active, the reforms present an opportunity for families to restore dignity and respect to their memory and name.

Lee Carnie, a Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the Criminal Law (Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement) Bill 2017 will help repair the harms caused by convictions leftover from when homosexual activity was illegal.

“We welcome the Queensland Government’s important step to help people whose love was criminalised by unjust laws. It’s not only a symbolic win, it will also remove practical barriers imposed by these unfair convictions. This will allow people to move on with their lives. It’s great news, well done to all involved,” said Carnie.

While consensual homosexual activity was decriminalised on 29 November 1990, convictions for those offences remain on people’s records today. These offences need to be disclosed even decades later when applying for a BlueCard, government and other positions (such as a police officer), or a visa to travel overseas.

The LGBTI Legal Service has been proud to work alongside a coalition of LGBTI community organisations which have been lobbying for these reforms for many years — including the Human Rights Law Centre, Queensland AIDS Council, Caxton Legal Centre, Brisbane Pride, Community Legal Centres Queensland and the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group.

Case study: Alan’s story

One man convicted under Queensland’s old laws was Alan Raabe who was convicted of sexual assault in 1988 after he made an overture to a plain clothes police officer at a well know gay beat.

“Being a criminal offence of a sexual nature, I had to abandon any hope of gaining teacher registration in Queensland. I had studied to gain a qualification, but was advised not to proceed with even an application for registration,” said Raabe.

For further comments or queries please contact:

Emile McPhee, Executive Director, LGBTI Legal Service, 0438 766 176.


“Like Love” – Stop Hate Speech

The LGBTI Legal Service is running the Like Love project to address vilification during the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey period.

Vilification is a public act or statement that incites others to hate a person or their group because of their gender identity or sexuality. A public act includes publication on the internet. Vilification is UNLAWFUL in Queensland. If you live in Queensland and hear or see something in your neighbourhood, post box, or on social media that incites hatred on the basis of gender identity or sexuality, we advise you to record or screen capture it (including the date and time) and seek legal advice.

Comments saying that, for example, gay people are more likely to be rapists or paedophiles have been found to be unlawful vilification in other legal cases. These kind of comments are not excused by the right to free speech.

The LGBTI Legal Service acknowledges that this time is particularly difficult for many members of our community – if you would benefit from mental health assistance you may want to access one of the services listed on the website of our friends at QuAC.

Have you encountered vilifying material?

If you encounter vilifying material, you may wish to:

  1. Take legal action yourself – in this case we recommend initially seeking legal advice through our free service. Please complete an intake form and send it to us along with the vilifying material. Please be aware that time limitations for seeking legal advice apply.


  1. Submit the offensive material to the LGBTI Legal Service for possible use as part of a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission at the end of the campaign period.

In both cases please contact the LGBTI Legal Service on with the vilifying material attached.

About vilification laws

You can find more general information about vilification on Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commission website at:

Some examples of vilification on the basis of sexuality or gender identity include:

  • a radio host using highly offensive homophobic language, laughing at and belittling gay and bisexual men on the air;
  • posters that say that lesbian mothers are damaging their children because they are exposed to their mothers’ sexuality; or
  • adverse comments inciting hatred towards all gay men written on a gay man’s publicly accessible social media page for his business.

There may also be other options you can consider such as making an application to the Commonwealth Attorney General under the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017 (Cth).

Please note that merely advocating for either the “Vote YES” or “Vote NO” campaigns does not automatically mean that a legal issue arises. The law endeavours to strike a balance between the right to freedom of political communications and the prohibiting of discriminatory speech.

Are you from outside Queensland?

Please note that anti-discrimination and vilification laws vary in each state and territory. If you are located outside Queensland, you can seek legal advice from your local community legal centre. Find your local community legal centre at the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

Have a “Vote NO” enquiry?

Whilst the LGBTI Legal Service actively advocates for the rights and liberties of LGBTI people, including the “Vote YES” campaign, we do not condone unlawful discriminatory or vilifying acts of any person(s). Our service believes in legal equality for all.


The Queensland Government delivers an apology that rights historical wrongs

Alan Raabe and LGBTI advocates will hold a doorstop press conference after the apology takes place in parliament in the courtyard in front of Parliament House.

Time: Immediately after the apology in parliament (approximately 3.00 pm-3.15 pm)
Date: Thursday, 11 May 2017
Location: Parliament House, 2A George St, Brisbane

MEDIA RELEASE: For immediate release: Thursday 11 May 2017

Rights groups including the LGBTI Legal Service, the Queensland AIDS Council and the Human Rights Law Centre have applauded the Queensland Government for today’s apology to people convicted under unjust laws against homosexual acts.

Emile McPhee, Executive Director of the LGBTI Legal Service, welcomed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s speech and said the apology recognises the harm that these discriminatory laws have caused.

“These laws have left a legacy of shame and stigma on our community for too long. It’s well and truly time for this legacy to be completely erased from the criminal histories of persecuted gays and lesbians. We welcome this historic moment which brings us one important step closer to equality,” said Mr McPhee.

The Government has also honoured its commitment to introduce a bill to erase criminal records for those convicted of homosexual offences in the past when consensual homosexual conduct was a crime. In Queensland, homosexuality was criminalised until 1990. Until then, men (and women) who engaged in consensual homosexual activity could be charged with any number of offences, ranging from indecency to ‘unnatural offences’ and sodomy.

Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, has successfully advocated for similar legislation and state apologies in other states and territories and welcomed the progress in Queensland.

“Sex between consenting adults should never have been criminalised. This apology from the Queensland Government is a powerful symbolic act that helps to repair the harm caused by these unjust laws and affirm the value of gay, lesbian and bisexual people’s sexuality,” said Ms Brown

Ms Brown added, “These laws had a profound impact on the everyday lives of gay men, lesbians and bisexual people and continue to limit work, travel and volunteering opportunities. By acknowledging the impact of these homophobic laws, the Premier pays respect to the victims of these laws but also to Queensland’s sexual and gender diverse communities.”

Alan’s story

One man convicted under Queensland’s old laws and present for the apology was Alan Raabe. Alan Raabe was convicted of sexual assault in 1988 after he made an overture to a plain clothes police officer at a well know gay beat. Mr Raabe said, “This is the first Queensland government in 30 years which has had the decency to acknowledge the trauma and anguish caused to hundreds of Queenslanders by these convictions. They are the first Queensland government in 30 years with the courage to right these injustices.”

“Being a criminal offence of a sexual nature, I had to abandon any hope of gaining teacher registration in Queensland. I had studied to gain a qualification, but was advised not to proceed with even an application for registration,” added Mr Raabe (Read more of Alan’s story here.)

Response from LGBTI community leaders

Alan’s story is representative of a number of gay men impacted by the history of criminalisation in Queensland, and the damaging legacy of discriminatory laws. Pete Black, Vice President of the Queensland AIDS Council said this was an historic moment for the state.

“The bill, together with the apology from the Premier, is a really important symbolic step for the LGBTIQ community in Queensland. This recognises that homosexuality should never have been against the law, and that gay men and women are entitled to the same rights and freedoms and privacy in their relationships as the rest of the community,” said Mr Black.

“The Queensland AIDS Council saw first-hand the impact the criminalisation of homosexuality had in this state. These laws not only impacted upon the individuals convicted for consensual sexual activities, they also contributed to a political climate that sought to marginalise the LGBTIQ community. This made it even harder for the community and for QuAC to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic when it arrived on our shores. Sadly, many members of our community from this time are no longer with us today. But this reform is welcomed by their families, friends and loved ones and is an opportunity for us all to remember their lives and their loss,” added Mr Black.

Response from Alan Raabe in full

My first reaction upon hearing this most welcome news is to say a huge “Thank you”.  There are two groups of people to whom I owe my thanks.

The first is to that amazing group of dedicated activists who work unacknowledged and quietly behind the scenes. They spend countless hours and enormous energy preparing copious submissions and reports, constantly lobbying politicians for equitable laws for our community. Despite repeated let downs and betrayal by bigoted, hypocritical and ill-informed politicians you never give up. I wish to specifically acknowledge the help and support of Emile McPhee and Anna Brown. Without your efforts none of this would have happened.

The second group of people I wish to thank is the current Palaszczuk government, and in particular the Attorney General Yvette D’Ath. This is the first Queensland government in 30 years which has had the decency to acknowledge the trauma and anguish caused to an estimated 500 Queenslanders by these convictions. They are the first Queensland government in 30 years with the courage to right these injustices. To you, I say a heartfelt “Thank you”.

Read Alan’s story here

The LGBTI Legal Service is continuing to look for stories like Alan’s. If you have a conviction you would like to discuss, please contact the LGBTI Legal Service. Read more here.

The Human Rights Law Centre also provides free legal help and support for individuals with historical convictions across Australia. Read more here.

For all media enquiries including interviews with Alan please contact:

Anna Brown, Director of legal Advocacy: 0422 235 522

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519

Emile McPhee, Executive Director, LGBTI Legal Service: 0438 766 176

Peter Black, Vice-President, Queensland AIDS Council: 0421 636 496


LGBTI Queenslanders welcome inaugural funding for legal help

For additional background, please see Media Release: Inaugural Funding (PDF, 155.8 KB).

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Queenslanders have welcomed today’s announcement that the volunteer-run LGBTI Legal Service will receive funding from the Queensland Government, meaning more LGBTI Queenslanders will be able to get legal help.

‘There are many LGBTI people with legal issues which are hidden and closeted, but they show a portrait of disadvantage, including mental illness and drug use, employment problems, homelessness and poverty, and generally lower health outcomes,’ said Matilda Alexander, President of the LGBTI Legal Service. ‘Research shows that LGBTI people are also less likely to access to legal remedies and health and community services.’

‘LGBTI Legal Service has been providing free legal services for over six years without funding, and is the only standalone community legal centre in Australia specialising in helping LGBTI people with legal problems,’ said Ms Alexander. ‘An increasing number of clients have been reaching out, and without government funding, the Service has had no capacity to do any ongoing casework. It is common to have to turn away clients because of the restricted capacity of our volunteer lawyers who can only accomplish a limited amount in the time available.’

‘Over the past two years, Yvette D’Ath has introduced significant legislative changes to fix outdated laws that stigmatised and marginalised members of our community. She has taken historic action to address this structural discrimination and sent a clear message to all Queenslanders of equality, safety and fairness. We have called this a legislative rainbow revolution.’

We applaud and celebrate this next groundbreaking step: providing the inaugural funding to the LGBTI Legal Service. With this money, we will be able to support LGBTI people experiencing domestic violence, to assist victims of crime, to provide specialist family law advice service, to support transgender people to transition and to eliminate discrimination in our workplaces. We now have the capacity to pursue justice and to make equality a reality for Queenslanders.’

‘LGBTI Queenslanders face the same legal problems as everyone else, as well as issues that are specific to people with diverse sexuality and gender identity,’ said Scott McDougall from Caxton Legal Service. ‘We join with other LGBTI Queenslanders to welcome today’s announcement that the LGBTI Legal Service will receive funding to provide more legal help across the state. This funding will allow the Service to do important work, and we’re pleased that the Queensland Government is supporting these vital services.’

‘With six years’ experience of providing quality legal help to people facing legal problems, it’s great to see the Queensland Government recognize the value of LGBTI Legal Service and the work they do,’ said James Farrell, Director of Community Legal Centres Queensland. ‘Sadly, this announcement comes as community legal centres across the state face a significant funding cut from the federal government. While funding for services like this one are welcome and important, we again call on Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis to reverse the funding cuts to community legal centres, to ensure all Queenslanders can access the legal help they need and the justice they deserve.’

Find out more about LGBTI Legal Service at

Media Contacts:

Matilda Alexander, LGBTI Legal Service 0421 201 951 |

Scott McDougall, Caxton Legal Service T (07) 3214 6333 |

James Farrell, Community Legal Centres Queensland 0411 206 835 |


QLRC submission – expunging criminal convictions

The LGBTI Legal Service is very pleased to have made a further submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission on the issue of expunging criminal convictions for consensual homosexual activity, a copy of which can be found below.

If anyone can share a story, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with us or the Queensland Law Reform Commission to share.

We thank Allens, Human Rights Law Centre, Queensland AIDS Council, Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services, Caxton Legal Centre and Townsville Community Legal Service for their assistance and input in preparing the submission.

Submission to Queensland Law Reform Commission review of expunging of criminal convictions for historical gay sex offences (PDF, 296.5 KB)