Addressing the UN earlier this week in a statement to the Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Law Centre called on all UN member states to cooperate with the first United Nations independent expert tasked with combating the unacceptable violence and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world.
Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the new role created by the Council last year was much needed and thanked the Australian Government for supporting the position.
“Deep-seated prejudice doesn’t disappear overnight, and not without principled action by governments. We need strategies to weed out discriminatory laws and practices and engage in genuine discussions to change hateful opinions about LGBTI people. The UN expert on sexual orientation and gender identity can help identify problems and advise governments on how to address them in a meaningful way,” said Ms Brown.
The statement was made following recent news reports of the systematic abduction and killing of gay men in Chechnya, mass arrests and prosecutions of gay men at a night club in Indonesia, the anniversary of the Florida Pulse Nightclub shooting and numerous murders of transgender women across South America. It highlighted the need to address the daily reality of violence and discrimination many LGBTI people face and encouraged countries to scrap laws that continue to criminalise same sex activity, and ensure they have laws to prohibit the forced sterilisation of intersex children and protect transgender people from violent hate crimes.
Ms Brown said Australian state and territory governments have been making progress to eliminate discrimination against LGBTI people entrenched in Australian laws.
“Although we are yet to achieve marriage equality in Australia, there have been a number of significant wins for LGBTI Australians in recent times. In 2016, the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex was standardised. The gay panic defence has been removed as a justification for murder in all but one state. We are close to achieving equal access to adoption and assisted reproductive technology such as IVF in all states and territories, and an increasing number of states and territories now allow people to have their leftover convictions for homosexual activity from before it was decriminalised to be cleared from their criminal records,” said Ms Brown.
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