The date for the Sydney GLBTI community’s once-in-a-generation opportunity to push for marriage equality, anti-discrimination, and programs to stamp out homophobic bullying has been set.
Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes pointed to the lack of relationship recognition, an equality act, and ongoing gender identity discrimination as Australia’s human rights challenges. These issues are raised in a toolkit to help GLBTI community members make the most of next month’s National Human Rights Consultation meeting in Sydney.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, Innes told Sydney Star Observer. We want to see a stronger human rights culture in Australia, one that is going to challenge things like homophobia and bullying and discrimination.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is advocating for a human rights act to provide enforceable remedies for discrimination and force governments and public servants to respect the human rights of GLBTI people.
We’re the only Western democracy that doesn’t have a human rights act. If we bring to the table an idea of the rights we have as well as a respect for the rights of others then we can reach a [workable model], Innes said.
Along with the GLBTI toolkit, the Commission has produced kits on 11 other issues including refugees, homelessness, older people, and faith-based communities. Innes said the benefits would extend to everyone, not just those disadvantaged groups.
However, that message was lost on conservative Christians who submitted dozens of submissions against such an act to a separate inquiry into religious freedoms. The Australian Christian Lobby joined in this week, concerned there were efforts to drop religious exemptions to anti-discrimination and anti-vilification laws.
It seems the review is itself determined to question the rights
and freedoms of those who hold a religious belief to participate fully in a democratic society, ACL spokesman Jim Wallace said in a statement this week.
[Comments by the] Sex Discrimination Commissioner on this issue would have only added to their concerns, as they seem to point to an agenda to remove or narrow exemptions that are perceived to limit gender equality, but in fact guarantee freedom of religious expression.
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby plans to call for same-sex marriage as gay and lesbian people have a human right to be treated equally under the law.
info: The Consultation’s committee will hold its Sydney forum on 17 March. Registration before the day is advised via www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au.