A long-awaited bill of rights could become a reality under the Rudd Government.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland intends to launch a nationwide consultation to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights next month.

We believe that the protection of human rights and responsibilities is a question of national importance for all Australians. Our consultation will have no outcome pre-supposed, he told a forum last week.

I note with interest comments by the Federal Opposition outlining their objection to a charter of rights.
He said the Howard government has an appalling record on upholding human rights, and he was determined to improve Australia’s reputation.

We are well aware that our human rights record is judged by our treatment of those in our community who suffer particular discrimination or disadvantage.

We must do all we can to promote Australia as an inclusive, tolerant and secure society, and promote a fair go for all.

In addition to the same-sex equality reforms, McClelland is pushing to remove weaknesses in the age and disabilities anti-discrimination laws.

He also moved Australia towards adopting the optional protocols of the Disability Convention, the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention against Torture.

Another test will come when it is time for Australia to vote on a French-initiated UN resolution for a universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

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