AUS: Tasmania Court Rules Woman-Only Events are “Discriminatory” Against Trans-Identified Males

A Tasmanian court has ruled that woman-only events are discriminatory towards men who claim that they are women, on the basis of their self-declared “gender identity.” The ruling was in response to an application filed by lesbian women seeking to hold women-only events at a venue in Launceston.

In May 2021, Jessica Hoyle, a representative for LGB Tasmania, contacted Equal Opportunity Tasmania (EOT) to apply for an exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (ADA), requesting the right to exclude males from lesbian-focused events on the basis of their biological sex. Hoyle explained she was affiliated with LGB Alliance Australia (LGBAA) at the time of the filing, and as a result, the Commissioner treated the appeal as an exemption sought on behalf of the LGBAA.

“We wish to hold an event primarily for Lesbians and women (those who are adult human females, or female-bodied humans),” Hoyle stated in her filing. “We do not want participants who are male-bodied humans attending regardless of how they identify. Lesbians are homosexuals, this is an event to celebrate lesbians and in particular, provide a safe venue without unwanted presence, attention or aggression of male-bodied people.”

In her filing, Hoyle also pointed to the loss of single-sex spaces as an infringement of lesbian rights.

“We have seen in recent times the rights of women and lesbians erased,” she said. “We have found in the LGBTQ community despite the mantra of ‘inclusion and diversity’ many female people are finding themselves excluded and feel invisible.”

As evidence of this phenomenon, Hoyle highlighted the disappearance of lesbian venues across Australia, saying, “Of the 102 spaces and events that used to exist, 99 no longer exist.”

Nevertheless, Anti‑Discrimination Commissioner Sarah Bolt refused Hoyle’s application in July. In her justification, Commissioner Bolt claimed “sex” was not a protected attribute, but gender identity was.

“As I understand it, the exemption is sought to permit discrimination on the basis of sex, specifically against ‘biological men’. Sex is not a protected attribute.”

The Anti-Discrimination Act, passed in 1998, was amended in 2019 to include the subjective category of gender identity, but does not provide legal protections on the basis of biological sex.

The Commissioner’s decision to refuse Hoyle’s request was justified on the grounds that granting the exemption would permit discrimination on the basis of gender identity – despite Hoyle having clarified that her intention was to only exclude “individuals who are male, regardless of their gender identity,” and asserting that “females are welcome no matter how they identify.”

Undeterred, Hoyle contacted the Anti‑Discrimination Tribunal (ADT) on July 16 of last year, requesting a review of the Commissioner’s rejection. After reviewing the case, the Tribunal sided with the Anti‑Discrimination Commissioner, and, on November 24, refused Hoyle’s request to permit women-only events.

In the ruling, Kate Cuthbertson of the ADT emphasized again that neither the terms “sex” nor “biological sex” are protected characteristics under the Anti-Discrimination Act.

“The Act does not expressly proscribe discrimination on the basis of such attributes in those terms. That has always been the case in Tasmania. The predecessor to the Act, the Sex Discrimination Act 1994, also proscribed discrimination on the basis of gender,” reads the ruling.

Cuthbertson took particular issue with an argument made in Hoyle’s request regarding “males who claim to ‘identify’ as lesbian.”

In defense of her application, Hoyle pointed to the academic literature which describes autogynephilia.

“Many of these men have a sexual fetish called autogynephilia. There are a myriad of academic articles written about this fetish,” Hoyle said. “Many autogynephilic males come into lesbian spaces in order to achieve sexual gratification for themselves, at the expense of lesbians. This is widely documented.”

Hoyle referred generally to instances of lesbians being harassed by men who identify as transgender, with same-sex attracted women being labelled as “transphobic” for refusing to date trans-identifying males. She further described the term “cotton ceiling,” a term coined by porn star and trans activist Drew DeVeaux in 2015.

“Cotton ceiling” is inspired by the concept of the “glass ceiling,” which is used to describe discrimination women face in the workplace that prevents them for reaching upper management levels. The “cotton” refers to the material of a women’s underwear, and frames a lesbian’s refusal to have sexual relations with males as a form of discrimination.

Yet Cuthbertson denied the existence of such harassment, and chided Hoyle for bringing up the issue, saying that such arguments “do a great disservice to transgender and transsexual” people.

“Many of the assertions, particularly those regarding paraphilias, patterns of criminality and nefarious motivations for attending female-only events were unsupported by empirical research or compelling evidence,” Cuthbertson stated in the ruling.

Speaking with Reduxx, Hoyle referred to a specific case in Tasmania involving a trans-identified male who was convicted of possessing child exploitation material last year.

Anna Koizumi Umpisa Simmons was found in possession of “anime and cartoon images of children in sexual poses,” but was not required to register as a sex offender. According to Hoyle, Simmons had also complained to staff at the Devonport swimming center after being refused entry to the women’s changing area.

Last October, The BBC reported on the testimonies of lesbians who had received violent threats, including of sexual assault, for refusing to accept the idea that “a penis can be a female sex organ“. Women were told they were bigoted and were called “genital fetishists” for being same-sex attracted. The BBC released a statement revealing that a flood of complaints had been received following the article’s publication.

Hoyle personally experienced similar abuse. Speaking with Sky News Australia, Hoyle told of how a man in a Facebook group for lesbians tried to “coerce” her into a sexual relationship. “He tried to coerce me and wanted to come spend a week with me… I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m same-sex attracted. The next thing I know, I’m getting abused on Facebook messenger and being called a ‘genital fetishist’.”

“It is pretty clear by this ruling that lesbians and women have zero rights to freedom of association, nor are seen as belonging to a minority group. This ruling is misogynistic and lesbophobic in nature,” Hoyle told Reduxx.

A legal recognition of biological sex is necessary for the preservation of the rights of women and of the gay and lesbian community, Hoyle said. “If sex is not a protected attribute, women and same-sex attracted people are not protected. Men claim to be lesbians in order to harass same-sex attracted women.”

“Tasmanian men and women did not know this had happened,” she added, referring to the implementation of gender identity policies in law. “These laws where rushed through with no proper community consultation.”

In nations around the world – including England, Wales, Germany – lesbian women have reported being terrorized for asserting their same-sex attraction. In Norway, a woman is facing up to three years in prison for saying that men cannot be lesbians. In the United States, a prominent trans activist and trans-identifying male was recently convicted of the 2016 murders of a lesbian couple and their son.

Until 1997, Tasmanian law criminalized homosexuality, and allowed for a maximum prison sentence of 21 years, the harshest penalty in the Western world. The legislation repealing the law against homosexuality passed by just a single vote. 

Hoyle has confirmed that she intends to appeal the ruling barring her from hosting women-only events, provided she is able to raise the legal funds required to proceed.

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Genevieve Gluck

Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.

Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.