The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) is pleased to observe that the Rwandan Government has decided against implementing a discriminatory new law which would make any person who engages, encourages or sensitises same-sex sexual relations or practice, liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine up to one million Rwandan francs.
This decision was made following advice from the United Nations AIDS Fund that the proposed law would be in breach of Articles 16 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which require all persons to be treated equally under the law, free from discrimination.
The stated aim of the ICCPR is to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms, recognising the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Thirty years ago this treaty came into force in Australia. As a signature to this treaty and having ratified it in 1980, Australia is obliged to observe and promote the rights as recognised in it.
Although signing and ratifying a treaty does not make its contents enforceable in Australia, treaty law is still a legitimate and important influence on the development of common law and may be used in the interpretation of statutes.
Lesbians, gay men and their families, as members of the human family, are entitled to be treated equally under the law. The GLRL urges the NSW and federal Government to act in accordance with the ICCPR and swiftly remove discrimination against same-sex couples in the Adoption Act, and the Marriage Act, and implement comprehensive federal anti-discrimination provisions to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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