Australia will move to adopt UN conventions on the elimination of discrimination against women and protect the rights of people with disabilities, Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced last week.

An assessment of discriminatory laws will be undertaken with Commonwealth agencies, and State and Territory governments.

Praising the work of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) in identifying discrimination against same-sex couples, McClelland said the government would hold further public consultation on all human rights issues.

Any new approach to human rights will, necessarily, flow from the views of the Australian people, he told a forum hosted by HREOC on Friday.

For the time being it’s important that I emphasise there is no predetermined outcome in such a consultation.

Australia would also join the optional protocol against torture, he said.

McClelland also used his address to defend the independence of HREOC, which he said had come under attack by the previous Howard government.

A left-wing youth conference will hold its own debate on same-sex marriage, indigenous rights, feminism, raunch culture and other human rights issues this month.

Resistance 2008 will be held 27-29 June at the University of Technology, Sydney, with keynote speakers from international human rights struggles.

Recently freed queer detainee Ali Humayun will also address the conference.

Past generations have stood up against the great injustices of their time: slavery, apartheid, fascism and war. They envisioned the world as it should be, not just as it was, and through their struggles achieved things once thought impossible, organiser Lauren Carroll-Harris said.

Now is not the time to despair. We need to get angry, get active and get organised. I encourage all Resistance members, supporters and anyone interested to attend and share their ideas for a better world.

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