The NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) is disappointed with the Federal Government’s announcement that it will not be seeking to establish a Human Rights Act.
The GLRL is encouraged by the Government’s proposal to instead harmonise current anti-discrimination legislation. However, the GLRL urges the Government to implement comprehensive federal legislation to ensure individuals are given the greatest protection against discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity. Kellie McDonald, Convenor of the GLRL, noted, “Australia currently has federal legislation which protects against discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability and age. However, sexual preference or gender identity remains a notable absence”.
Senthorun Raj, GLRL Policy & Development Coordinator, urges the Government, in its refusal to implement a Human Rights Act, to reform Federal anti-discrimination law. “While improving the scrutiny of laws for human rights compliance and introducing human rights education is promising, it is not a substitute for rights protection”, he said.
Ms McDonald added, “The Government needs to ensure any reforms to existing anti-discrimination laws offer individuals the highest level of protection against sexuality and gender identity discrimination as well as providing access to remedies if these anti-discrimination provisions have been breached”. In response to the Government’s commitment for a ‘fair go for all’, the GLRL strongly urges the Government to introduce legislation that protects people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Mr Raj noted, “This would be an essential step forward in endorsing our international obligations under Article 26 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that entitles all people to equality and anti-discrimination protection in the law”.