Australia will face questions on human rights issues and the GLBT community on Thursday when it appears for its Universal Periodic Review at the UN.
The Netherlands has flagged that it will ask what the Australian Government will do to ensure same-sex couples are recognised under federal law, and if this will include marriage.
“Concerning the rights of same-sex couples and the prevention of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, what specific measures will the Government take to ensure equality before the law of all its citizens regardless of sexual orientation, and will this include allowing same-sex partners to marry and recognise same-sex marriages from overseas, as well as ensuring equal rights for same-sex partners seeking to become parents, or who are currently parenting?” the Dutch question reads.
In its report to the Periodic Review, the Government states that its position is that it “supports a nationally consistent state-based framework for relationship recognition”.
The Netherlands will also ask a more general question on equality and non-discrimination — whether a proposed single federal human rights act will cover all rights to equality and non-discrimination as contained in international human rights law.
Switzerland will grill the Government about what it is doing to protect GLBTs from discrimination.
“Which measures has Australia taken to ensure that all citizens live free from discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity?” the Swiss question reads.
Currently in federal law, GLBTs only have protection from discrimination in employment.
Australian Marriage Equality welcomed the Government being scrutinised on its GLBTI rights record.
“Australia is a human rights leader and to remain in that position we must show we are genuine about human rights by removing the legal inequalities experienced by same-sex couples,” AME national convenor Alex Greenwich said.
“As we celebrate our nation’s achievements on Australia Day, let’s keep in mind that the test of national values like equality and a fair go is whether they are extended to all citizens.”
However, Sex And Gender Education sexologist Tracie O’Keefe was disappointed that the Swiss question did not include transsexuals and intersex people who were not gender diverse.
“Many people who are intersex or sex diverse are not gender diverse, so it misses out a whole swathe of people who are not currently protected in Australia,” O’Keefe said.
“It’s great that they’re asking a question, but it would be greater if they asked the whole question.”