Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner marching in the Mardi Gras parade is still considered contentious in some parts of the political spectrum.

Liberal senator Guy Barnett attempted to sniff out any anti-Christian bias in Commissioner Graeme Innes during Senate Estimates hearings last week by questioning his decision to participate in this year’s parade.

Has the Commission considered the merit of participating in perhaps any church activities -” the national day of thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any other Christian organisations or is it only focused on other matters, like the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras? the senator asked.

Barnett also wanted to know if Innes had consulted the Australian Family Association as part of the recent transgender rights report.

Innes said he and Commissioner Tom Calma regularly participate in multi-faith and Christian activities as part of their roles.

Christian groups were also invited to contribute to the transgender rights report released in March.

The report recommended the definition of sex affirmation treatment be broadened so surgery is not the only criterion for a change in legal sex, and adults be allowed to leave their sex unspecified in some official records.

Innes also wanted the federal government to take a leading role in ensuring nationally consistent legal recognition of sex that was empowering for the gender diverse community.

Australian Family Association spokesman John Morrissey described the report as a crazy ideological agenda behind getting rid of gender.

The Commission independently commissioned and researched the report after transgender issues were raised during the 2006-2007 Same-Sex: Same Entitlements inquiry.

Calma joined Innes in the Mardi Gras parade this year.

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