A gay former ALP supporter is considering moving to Canada over the Government’s failure to end discrimination against gay and lesbian Australians under federal law.
In 2008, the Government amended around 85 pieces of legislation to treat same-sex couples equally with heterosexual de factos.
However, no federal legislation covers discrimination based on sexuality, and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act has only limited powers regarding sexuality discrimination.
Website developer Andrew James said he was so hopeful about a Labor victory, he wore a Kevin ’07 shirt to work and volunteered online marketing advice to the Rudd campaign.
“I honestly believed Rudd when he promised to put an end to all discrimination that GLBT people were subjected to in our country,” James said.
“When Kevin Rudd became leader of the Labor Party, he had no website and no online platform to reach out to voters. I volunteered free advice and liaised back and forth with his assistant at the time.
“When his new site, Kevin07, finally went live, I received a personal email from Kevin where he thanked me for my help.”
But around a year ago, while looking at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website, James discovered that there were still holes in federal protections.
The AHRC may investigate complaints of discrimination based on sex, disability, race or age in the areas of employment, education, accommodation, sport, the administration of Commonwealth laws and services, and the provision of goods, services and facilities.
The Commission may only investigate claims of sexuality discrimination in employment — the same level of protection it extends to people with criminal records.
“I was so upset that this was still on the website,” James said. “It seemed so Howardesque and out of sync with the representations Rudd had made regarding GLBT discrimination during the election.”
James raised the issue with his local member, Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek, who forwarded his concerns to Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
James was told to expect a reply, but so far none has been forthcoming.
“I’m seriously considering moving to Canada,” he said.
Through a spokesperson, the Attorney-General acknowledged the lack of protection in this area, and that “legislative changes would be needed to extend the Commission’s powers”.
“The Government is currently considering the recommendations from the National Human Rights Consultation report and will respond in the coming months.”

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