Monday February 27th 2023
OVERSEAS LGBTIQA+ FUNDING WELCOMED BUT GOV'T BLASTED FOR FAILING TO DO SAME IN AUSTRALIA
National lobby group, Just.Equal Australia, has welcomed Federal Government funding for LGBTIQA+ advocacy in the Asia-Pacific region but has blasted the Government for refusing to do the same at home in Australia.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Penny Wong, has announced that Australia will spend $3.5 million to fund LGBTQIA+ civil society organisations and human rights defenders to help reduce LGBTIQA+ discrimination in the Asia-Pacific.
But since being elected, the Government has repeatedly refused to appoint an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission despite there being commissioners for sex, race, disability, age, youth and Indigenous Australians.
Spokesperson for Just.Equal, Brian Greig, said that last year the Government voted against an amendment to the Human Rights Commission Act appointing an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner and this month again failed to commit to the appointment of an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner.
“There is a double standard here, with the Government rightly funding LGBTIQA+ advocacy in our region, but failing to take this discrimination seriously in Australia,” Greig said.
"The Government has repeatedly refused to appoint an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner in Australia, despite the Australian Human Rights Commission having specific commissioners for other minorities."
"On top of that, the only LGBTIQA+ policy officer at the AHRC was made redundant due to funding cuts, leaving the Commission with no-one to focus on our rights for the first time in decades."
“This is why the AHRC has not issued a policy or even a media statement on LGBTIQA+ human rights since 2021, despite escalating attacks on our human rights."
“The most effective way to protect and promote the human rights of LGBTIQA+ people is with our own Commissioner."
After the Government voted against an amendment appointing an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner last year, Just.Equal wrote to Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, explaining that the AHRC has no capacity to deal with LGBTIQA+ human rights, and urged him to appoint a dedicated Commissioner immediately.
In his reply, the Attorney General avoided the issue of an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner, saying the government is investing an additional $49.8 million into the AHRC for the 2022-23 Budget.
Greig said it was astonishing the government would throw an extra $50 million into the AHRC but still won’t appoint an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner or policy officer.
$3.5 million is not enough
While Just.Equal welcomed the funding announcement from Minister Wong, it says much more is required.
According to reports, the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada, spent $75 million, $34 million and $25 million respectively on international LGBTIQA+ advocacy in 2019-20. Australia is proposing just $3.5 million for 2023-24.
Mr Greig said,
"In the Asia-Pacific region Australia has been missing in action on LGBTIQA+ rights for decades."
"This is partly why so many countries in our region still retain criminal laws against homosexuality and there are so few countries with LGBTIQA+ anti-discrimination protections."
"The Australian Government must increase its overseas LGBTIQA+ advocacy funding many times over if it is to make a meaningful impact in reducing LGBTIQA+ discrimination in the Asia-Pacific region."
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Brian Greig on 0407 776 961.