By Andrew Potts

Australia, Canada and New Zealand have joined to deliver a statement condemning the persecution of sexual and gender minorities around the world.
Angela Robinson of the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva delivered the statement on behalf of the three countries on March 23.
Robinson reminded member nations of the joint statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity of December 2008 which called for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality, and which has been endorsed by 68 countries.
Robinson called for other countries to endorse the joint statement.
“Canada, New Zealand and Australia are deeply concerned by the continuing violations all over the world of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice directed against persons because of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Robinson said.
“We are especially concerned that legislation under consideration in Uganda could provide for life imprisonment and even the death penalty for homosexuality in some cases.
“This Council’s mandate is to promote ‘universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner’.
“Canada, New Zealand and Australia therefore call upon members of this Council and all states to promote and protect the human rights of all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual orientation or gender identity must never be the basis for discrimination, abuse, criminal action and penalties, detention or imprisonment, or deprivation of any human right.
“We urge all states to endorse the statement to the UN General Assembly of December 18 2008. We also urge all states to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Corey Irlam welcomed the Government speaking out on the issue at an international level, but said it would carry more weight if Australia had finished the job at home.
“We congratulate the Australian Government for calling on its international brethren to apply the principle of non-discrimination to their laws and treat all its citizens equally,” Irlam said.
“However until the Government applies these views for its own citizens, by introducing federal anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, Australia’s credibility on these issues is weakened.
“Last month Tony Abbott said the Coalition would ‘in principle’ support such laws. There is no more time for excuses and delays by the Rudd Government on this issue.”

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