Government explains gender-free Queensland driver’s licences amid reported complaints from LGBTI community

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Sydney Traffic
Morning rush hour traffic crawls along a freeway in western Sydney December 15, 2008. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

A leaked document suggests that Queensland drivers’ licences have become gender-free following complaints from the LGBTQI community. Members of the LGBTI community reportedly argued discrimination, but a government spokesman maintained that the change was due to a number of reasons.

The Queensland government scrapped a requirement for gender to appear in all drivers’ licences in 2016. In a leaked document obtained by the Courier Mail, the decision implied that the change occurred following complaints from the LGBTQI community. Other personal information such as a person’s eye colour and hair was also scrubbed because it could be potentially “perceived as discriminatory,” the leaked document reportedly implied.

The change also removed height from the physical licence, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) confirmed. There were reported concerns that the collection of personal data was potentially discriminatory.

The department, however, said that drivers’ licences becoming gender-free were due to the need to make driver's and marine licences compliant with new anti-discrimination laws, the Courier Mail reports. Improvement in technology is another reason for the move, according to a Roads Minister spokesman, Mark Bailey.

Speaking to News.com.au, a government spokesman said that the change came down to a number of reasons, with many having to do with advancements in technology. He said that the primary reasons for the change were amendments to federal sex discrimination laws as well as technological advancements in facial recognition.

Information that identified an individual can be readily accessed in other ways thanks to improvement in technology. As for South Australia, it has gone digital with licences after a smartphone app was launched in October 2017.

Many reasons for the change were reportedly not identified in the leaked TMR document. “They should have been (included in the document) and we’ve asked that this additional information be included.”

Meanwhile, Queenslanders took to social media to react to the changes. On Facebook, one person said Australia is “becoming a joke” and “too many idiots” are making decisions for “normal Aussies.”

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington called the 2016 changes “madness.” She told the Courier Mail that it is offensive to taxpayers that their money has been “wasted on this rubbish.”

Information on gender will still be accessible to police through databases. When applying for a licence, drivers will still be asked to nominate their gender. The TMR no longer records people’s gender and height for all new and renewed licences since October 2016.