The Australian Government has an opportunity to play a critical role in addressing the violence and discrimination lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people face across the globe, the Human Rights Law Centre told the UN Human Rights Council today.
The Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Victor Madrigal-Borloz tabled the first report since taking over the mandate, in which he called violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender diversity a ‘scourge’ on the world which countries must acknowledge.
Lee Carnie, Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, delivered a statement to the Human Rights Council highlighting Australia’s role.
“LGBTI people worldwide face violence and discrimination, exclusion and marginalisation in every corner of the globe. The international community must take a strong stand against prejudice and hatred, and work towards removing laws in the countries which still, unbelievably, criminalise homosexuality.”
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A number of states who strongly opposed the mandate were notably silent today, and China stated its opposition to all forms of discrimination and violence but called on the international community to respect traditional beliefs and avoid imposing values on others.
In contrast, the Australian Government strongly supported the mandate, spoke out against stigmatisation and hatred of LGBTI people and stated that “[t]raditional cultural values must not be used to justify the denial of human rights.”
“Australia has taken a strong stand on the rights of LGBT people on the international stage for a number of years, with bipartisan support, and now that Australia has a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, the Australian Government has an opportunity to be a champion for LGBTI people who face violence and persecution worldwide,” said Lee Carnie.
The UN also heard that the Australian Government needs to address inequality faced by LGBTI people on its own shores.
“While there has been significant progress in Australia on issues such as marriage equality, Australia’s record on medically unnecessary surgeries performed on intersex infants needs closer examination. And trans and gender diverse people are still waiting on much needed birth certificate reform so they can access identification documents that reflect who they are,” said Lee Carnie.
“We need stronger protections from the hate speech and hate crimes which spiked during last year’s marriage equality postal survey. The Australian Government has a responsibility to repair the damage caused by last year’s harmful debate, which saw demand for LGBTI mental health and suicide help lines spike by 40 per cent,” added Lee Carnie.
Watch: The Human Rights Law Centre's statement here. (begins 1:25:46)
Lee Carnie will be available for comment from Geneva.
For further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519