The federal Labor government is continuing with its 'plan' to promote human rights. They held a 'National Consultation on Human Rights' back in 2008-2009 - but decided NOT to have a full 'Bill of Rights'...
BUT they are implementing a range of measures to promote human rights - they are all part of the government's document: "Australia's Human Rights Framework". Read about it: click here.
We're printing an article in our February journal - which will be posted next Thursday (2/2/2012). It summarises the measures - a 'National Human Rights Plan', scrutiny of ALL proposed legislation against UN treaties, a special Parliamentary Committee to undertake that task, education on human rights, more anti-discrimination laws and so on. It highlights submissions for the 'Action Plan' - they close Feb 29, 2012.
Raad article: Government promotes human rights
Anti-Discrimination law - Submissions needed by Feb 1, 2012
Please act NOW!
The most immediate challenge is an Inquiry into Commonwealth anti-discrimination law. A Discussion Paper on anti-discrimination law was released last year. The federal Labor government's plan is to 'consolidate' all Commonwealth anti-discrimination law - and ADD laws on 'sexual orientation'..
The overview says "the Government is seeking to consolidate Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws into a single Act."
The overview and Discussion Paper are posted on this specific webpage:
Consolidation of Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws T
is has a general overview - plus a link to the Discussion Paper (60 pages).
Discussion Paper - direct link - click here.
ADDING sexuality and gender identity anti-discrimination laws
Currently there are laws affecting race, sex, martial status, disability, age and so on - in different Acts of Parliament. List is at Paragraph 71, Page 21 of Discussion Paper.
There are NO Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws based on sexuality (or homosexuality).
[There are such laws at state and territory level]. This is largely due to the decision of the Howard government to resist implementing such laws. Over the past 15 years the Democrats and Greens repeatedly pushed for such laws. BUT the federal Labor government wants to introduce anti-discrimination laws based on sexuality and gender identity. Apparently this was an 'election promise' at the 2010 election.
See Discussion Paper, Para 73-76, Page 21. The Overview gives the government's intent...
In considering options for reform, the Government will keep the following principles in mind:
- a reduction in complexity and inconsistency in regulation to make it easier for individuals and businesses to understand their rights and obligations under the legislation
- no reduction in existing protections in federal anti-discrimination legislation
- ensuring simple, cost-effective mechanisms for resolving complaints of discrimination, and
- clarifying and enhancing protections where appropriate.
The Government has committed to introducing new protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination as part of this process.
Making a new 'Act' gives the government opportunity to extend such laws. As well as adding laws based on 'sexual orientation', they specifically state (Para 73)
" This project provides the opportunity to consider whether other attributes should be covered in the federal legislation, including those attributes protected under the Fair Work Act or at the State or Territory level."
That gives them an 'open door' to do what they want!
Please send a brief submission or letter to the Inquiry.
Submissions close on Feb 1, 2012.
International Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Branch
Robert Garran Offices
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600
Send a submission from yourself - and/or from your church or organisation. It can be short - but we need to tell the Inquiry - politely - what we think!
Some points to include - use your own words, please...
- Ask that no changes be made to extend anti-discrimination law. All anti-discrimination law removes freedom of choice - we already have too many such laws. [Anti-discrimination law is dealt with by Equal Opportunity Commissions and Tribunals - the 'rule of law' is not the overriding principle there!]
- Oppose the introduction of anti-discrimination law based on sexuality and gender identity.
- Highlight the adverse impact that this has on freedom of choice and freedom of religion.
- Cite particular cases where churches and Christians have been subject to such laws. There are numerous cases in Australia under similar state laws - Wesley Mission, CYC camps (Phillip Island etc).
A paper, by Neil Foster, presented at a Conference on religion and law, details some Australian and overseas cases and highlights the adverse impact they have had on the freedom of religion.
Click here to read his paper.
Thank you for taking action - and making a difference!