The Australian Senate passed a bill to get rid of the country’s “tampon tax” on Monday.
The bill, proposed in early May by Greens party senator Janet Rice, would remove the goods and services tax (GST) from feminine hygiene products.
In Australia, products such as tampons and sanitary pads are considered non-essential “luxury items.” To manage their periods, women have no choice but to pay a 10 percent GST tax on feminine hygiene products. Meanwhile, items such as condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and toothpaste are exempt.
“If it were cisgender men who required sanitary products in relation to a natural function of their bodies every month, it is unlikely that the [goods and services tax] would have been added in the same manner,” Rice said on the Senate floor in May.
Getting rid of the tax would cost the Australian government about $30 million a year in revenue, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.
In order for the bill to become law, Australia’s House of Representatives would need to vote to remove the tax. The move is highly unlikely since the Coalition, an alliance of center-right parties, does not support the bill, according to ABC.
Women, primarily, have strongly advocated for the removal of the “tampon tax,” which the Federal Government implemented in 2000. At the time, a group of women donning superhero outfits threw tampons and pads at cabinet ministers to protest the decision. In 2015, a university student started a petition titled, “Stop taxing my period!” It garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
Although the Federal Government put the tax in place, it maintains that it can only change the GST on feminine hygiene products if Australia’s states and territories are in agreement. That’s something Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm disputes.