Wednesday 17 May 2017

The Australian Human Rights Commission acknowledges International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on 17 May 2017.

“International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia is an important opportunity to reflect on the progress made nationally and globally to reduce violence, harassment, stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

“The day also reminds us how much there is still to do,” Commissioner Santow said.

Ten years ago, the Commission launched a groundbreaking national inquiry and subsequent report, Same-Sex Same-Entitlements. This work led to the amendment of 84 Commonwealth laws that discriminated against same-sex couples and their families in the areas of financial and work-related entitlements and benefits.

2017 also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Yogyakarta Principles, a set of international legal principles on the application of international human rights law to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

In April this year, the newly appointed UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, released his first report as the Independent Expert on the theme of “diversity in humanity, humanity in diversity”.

Professor Muntarbhorn identified the following priorities to protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people across the world:

  • decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations
  • effective anti-discrimination measures
  • legal recognition of gender identity
  • the removal of stigma associated with LGBTI people and an end to assessments and treatments that pathologise LGBTI people
  • sociocultural inclusion
  • promotion of education and empathy

“Australia has made important progress in some of these areas,” Commissioner Santow said.

“Tasmania became the last Australian state to decriminalise consensual same-sex relations in 1997 and over the past few years the majority of Australian states and territories have taken steps to apologise to the people who were affected by these discriminatory laws and introduce schemes to expunge past convictions.

“In 2013, the Commonwealth Parliament enacted federal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

“Unfortunately, key human rights issues persist for LGBTI people in Australia, as they do around the world.”

As of May 2017, 72 states continue to criminalise consensual same-sex relations. In Australia, the Commission’s 2015 publication, Resilient Individuals: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Intersex Rights confirmed that LGBTI people continue to experience high rates of violence, bullying and harassment based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

“All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status,” Commissioner Santow said.

“The Commission joins with Australian and global communities to reaffirm our commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting the human rights of LGBTI people.”