This week, a reminder for all readers to get their submissions in to the National Human Rights Consultation on an Australian bill of rights by the June 15 deadline.
A bad bill of rights could put as many obstacles in the way of final equality for GLBT Australians as a good bill might do to remove them.
And if the material received by the Australian Human Rights Commission last year during its Freedom of Religion and Belief inquiry is anything to judge by, the forces of Australian fundamentalism will be mustering their troops and emailing a glut of submissions in favour of their right to discriminate, so it’s vital we make ourselves heard.
Issues you might like to make the Consultation Committee aware of your concerns about could include:
Discrimination in Australia’s marriage and adoption laws, and the refusal to grant gay couples an opt-in form of recognition federally.
Areas where gay people are discriminated against based on identity rather than behaviour, such as blood donation rules, and in film and television classification decisions where gay-themed material is often given more restrictive ratings than equally explicit heterosexual content.
The lack of federal anti-discrimination laws protecting people on the basis of sexuality, and state-based loopholes that allow charities and businesses owned by religious groups to refuse gay people work or services, and allow gay students to be expelled from private schools.
At the very least, such organisations should be forced to declare publicly the grounds they choose to discriminate on so Australians can choose to be as discriminating in whether to do business with them, or donate money to them.
Queensland’s unequal age of consent for anal sex, set at 18 when the legal age for all other sex is 16, is another area of state-based discrimination worth mentioning.
Ideally, such a bill would ensure freedom from religion is as equally protected as freedom of religion and that the religious rights of dissenting people of faith are as protected as those in the church hierarchies who disagree with them.
Submissions don’t have to be long or complex and can be submitted online.
If you have a good argument to make, that’s great, but simply letting them know an issue is of concern is just as important.
Visit humanrightsconsultation.gov.au to make your submission.
Australian Marriage Equality have also put together a toolkit to assist GLBT people in making submissions which can be found at australianmarriageequality.com/hrc.htm