This Sunday marks 10 years since the United Nations ruled that Tasmania’s anti-gay laws breached international civil rights, but the two activists at the forefront of the campaign said there was still a long way to go. Barely anything has changed at a national level with discrimination running deeper in Australian law than in almost any other western country, Rodney Croome said, in a statement about the anniversary from the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group. A decade ago Croome and Nick Toonen approached the United Nations to protest Tasmania’s laws, which at the time criminalised homosexuality with a maximum 21-year gaol term. The UN announced on 11 April 1994 the state’s laws were in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. According to Croome, the embarrassing global attention of the announcement forced Tasmania onto a new path of tolerance and social inclusion which it is still pursuing today. Toonen added the decision was also useful for law reform advocates in other countries because it found sexuality discrimination to be as unacceptable as discrimination on the grounds of race or sex. The anniversary falls just as a proposal to include sexual orientation in the UN’s broader definitions of global human rights was withdrawn by Brazil, allegedly under pressure from the Vatican, Egypt and Pakistan.

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