Gay community leaders have met with the Human Rights Consultation Committee to discuss marriage, anti-discrimination legislation and the need for a human rights charter.
Committee chair Frank Brennan and member Mary Kostakidis held a closed roundtable with representatives from leading GLBT lobby groups — including the Australian Coalition for Equality, AFAO, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and the Gender Centre — to hear their concerns about a human rights charter.
“This consultation has the unique opportunity to strengthen the human rights of LGBTI Australians,” ACE spokesman Corey Irlam said.
“After 14 years of discussion, Australia still has very limited federal protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and no protections on the basis of gender identity or intersex. This committee’s recommendations will influence change in this area.”
“We’ve had a lot of public submissions and talk of same-sex marriage, which is obviously a contemporary issue, but this opened up for us some of the complexity of the other issues that are being constantly faced by this community,” Brennan said after the meeting.
On the question of whether federal anti-discrimination legislation would be included in the committee’s recommendations Brennan said the report “would be looking one step back from that in terms of what’s the appropriate way to better protect and promote human rights in Australia, reporting on the options we hear from the Australian community.
“In terms of the complexities of where to go with either an equality act or amending various pieces of Commonwealth legislation, they’re the sort of technical questions this report won’t answer… but [the report] will provide various perspectives we’ve heard from the community.”
Some of those community perspectives include religious groups pushing for exemptions from any human rights charter or anti-discrimination legislation.
“We’ve heard quite a lot out of Victoria on religious exemptions but also we had [South Sydney] Anglican bishop [Robert] Forsyth appear in our Sydney public appearance, so there have been a number of different submissions from church groups on that issue,” Brennan said.
info: The Committee is set to deliver its findings, based on thousands of submissions and dozens of community forums, to the Government at the end of this month.
Human Rights Consultation Committee chair Frank Brennan and member Mary Kostakidis met with GLBT leaders.