Senator Claire Chandler has called for Sport Australia to immediately withdraw its discredited inclusion in sport guidelines after revelations at Senate Estimates that they contain no scientific research on safety and fairness in women’s sport and are legally misleading.
Under questioning from Senator Chandler in Estimates, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Sport Australia’s Chief Medical Officer admitted that development of the guidelines never sought to gather scientific evidence on whether it’s safe or fair for males to play in women’s sport. The Guidelines tell Australian sporting clubs to base participation on “affirmed gender identity” rather than sex, even though contemporary research by World Rugby shows that women are at increased risk of serious head and neck injuries if tackled by biological males.
A World Rugby transgender guideline finalised in October cites 49 scientific reports relating to male vs female performance in sport, directly contradicting Sport Australia’s guideline released just a year earlier which references none of these studies and falsely claimed “there is limited research” available – research Sport Australia and the AHRC admits they didn’t even look for.
Senator Chandler: “Is it really too much to expect that Sport Australia would recommend against allowing males into female sports unless they had science proving there was no additional injury risk or fairness impacts?”
“Why are they so opposed to openly and transparently detailing who was involved in the development of a guideline which failed to consult women’s groups and failed to include scientific assessment of fairness and safety on women’s sport?”
The Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Sport Australia’s Chief Medical Officer have claimed that the guidelines were only ever intended as legal interpretation of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. However, expert legal analysis has found that the guidelines “misrepresent the rights and obligations of sporting organisations” and “may have dangerous practical effects”.
“Commonwealth law expressly permits women’s sport to be female-only. Science clearly demonstrates that it’s unfair and, in the case of contact sport unsafe, for males to compete against women in sport,” Senator Chandler said.
“The deliberate creation of a legal fiction suggesting that clubs and codes offering single-sex competitive sport are at risk of prosecution is an abuse of process and of taxpayer funding.
“By ignoring the available science and misrepresenting the law, Sport Australia and the AHRC are culpable for any injuries incurred by women on the sporting field who are forced to compete against biological males.”