Australia has agreed to sign a French-led United Nations declaration calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality across the globe.
The non-binding resolution is expected to be read out at the UN General Assembly in the coming weeks.
Earlier confusion over whether Australia had agreed to be part of the resolution resulted in what appeared to be a last minute turnaround.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson told Southern Star Australia had agreed to support the declaration in October, however, it had not publicised its stance until now.
Around 85 of the UN’s 192 member states still have anti-homosexuality laws in place, including around seven countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. In light of this, it is thought a majority view on action will not be reached.
The move is historic in that it is the first resolution to be put to the General Assembly tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on a global level.
All 27 countries of the European Union have signed the declaration.
-œThese countries, including Australia, will send a clear message about the universality of human rights -” for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.
-œAustralia decided to support the statement in principle in October and has been actively engaged in a substantive consultative process over several months to settle the final text, a DFAT spokesperson said in a statement.
The Vatican has voiced its opposition ahead of the resolution saying it would lead to reverse discrimination against those nations supporting traditional heterosexual marriage. The Organisation of Islamic States has also opposed it.
The Australian Coalition for Equality’s Rod Swift welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to make a strong international stand on gay rights.
-œAustralia’s support of the statement sends an especially strong message of condemnation to those nations who still execute and persecute people just for being of a different sexual orientation or gender identity, Swift said.
-œIt sends out a statement that being gay isn’t wrong, that being GLBTI isn’t some sort of disease or mental problem and deserves protection like other human rights.
Swift said it was important Australia seemed to be reclaiming its past leadership on human rights issues but said the government still has a long way to go in protecting Australia’s queer community and needs to enact anti-discrimination laws for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and Macedonia are among those supporting the declaration. Russia and Turkey have refused to sign and only three African nations have declared their support.