Does anybody, like me, feel like they’re living in two parallel worlds?

The timing seems ironic when, in the same week, I receive: notification that, on June 17, member states of the UN Human Rights Council would re-vote on human rights based on sexual orientation and gender.

The resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights research violence and discrimination in this sphere and discuss her findings in the UN; the recently-released ‘Agreed Conclusions’ of the 55th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Economic and Social Council; Hansard, detailing the Victorian parliamentary debate on the regressive Equal Opportunity Amendment Bill; and news that the Vic Charter submission date has been extended to July 1.

Can Victoria really be travelling backwards in time while the rest of the world travels forwards?

The Commission on the Status of Women seems intent, contrary to the newly-passed ‘Equal’ Opportunity legislation, on assuring women’s employment in, and access to, education. It “stresses that education is a human right”, and “expresses deep concern about all legal, economic, social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from having equal access to education and training … and disadvantages that prevent their participation in education, training and employment”, i.e. religious bigotry.

Hasn’t Bernie Finn, who spoke in the Victorian Parliament’s EO debate, read Don’t Think of an Elephant? Doesn’t he know about an audience’s likely reversal of his statements when he says, according to Hansard, “I hate no one … and I certainly do not want to persecute anybody … They have a lifestyle that is not mine, but they are not criminals. I respect them, and I am very tolerant of their lifestyle … It is very important that everybody in this state is aware that this proposed legislation is not about hatred.… I would hate — to use that word again — to think that any section of the community would take it in that way, because it most certainly is not meant as and is not an attack on any section of the community at all”.

Which brings us to the possibility of protecting our Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities against those who would disintegrate or, at the very least, gut it.

To find out about making a submission — even one page — and the terms of reference, visit Send your submission to Edward O’Donohue MLC, Chairperson, Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee, by mail (Parliament of Victoria, Melbourne VIC 3002) or email [email protected]

info: Barbary Clarke is co-convenor of the VGLRL’s Policy Working Group.

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