Andrew M. Potts
Rights advocates have condemned the federal Government’s response to the National Human Rights Consultation. Canberra’s response failed to include a commitment to protect people from sexuality discrimination or to acknowledge issues of sexuality or gender identity.

While ruling out the creation of a human rights charter, the Government pledged to combine the existing anti-discrimination protections on grounds of age, sex, race and disability, into a new single anti-discrimination act — but not sexuality or gender identity.

Australian Coalition for Equality campaign coordinator Corey Irlam said he was outraged by the Government’s failure to commit to protecting the LGBTI community from discrimination.

“We are outraged by the clear message the Rudd Government is sending the Australian community — that protecting LGBTI human rights is not a priority for the ALP,” Irlam said.

”Because [Attorney-General Robert] McClelland has not directly addressed the failure of federal law to protect LGBTI people from discrimination, today’s announcement is a joke.

“With more health and ageing services being delivered by the federal Government, we can no longer afford this kind of indifference.”

Australian Marriage Equality was saddened by the ruling out of a national human rights charter, believing this could have been an effective vehicle for legalising same-sex marriage.

“A human rights charter would have allowed the 60 percent of Australians who support marriage equality, and who are currently ignored by our national political leaders, to have their day in court before an independent umpire,” AME spokesman Alex Greenwich said.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Rudd Government seems determined to avoid any major reform — be it marriage equality or a charter of rights — which may offend a handful of so-called Christian lobbyists.

“We are particularly angry that it has completely ignored the views of those many Australians who wrote to, or appeared before, the National
Human Rights Consultation in support of marriage equality.”

The Australian Christian Lobby and the Salt Shakers have both praised the Government’s decision to rule out a human rights charter.

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