Media Release
Wednesday February 22nd 2023
In a letter to national lobby group, Just.Equal Australia, federal Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, has failed to commit to the appointment of an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) despite spending almost $50 million to "support the work of the Commission".
The AHRC has specific Sex, Race, Disability, Age, Children's and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander commissioners but there is no commissioner for LGBTIQA+ people.
Just.Equal spokesperson, Sally Goldner, said there was a disconnect between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese marching in Mardi Gras and his Government refusing to take LGBTIQA+ discrimination seriously by appointing an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner.
“This Government has previously said LGBTIQA+ human rights comes under the mandate of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner."
"But during questions in Parliament late last year, it was confirmed that budget cuts meant the specialist LGBTIQA+ adviser to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner was axed in June 2022."
“There is no-one at the AHRC with a focus on LGBTIQA+ human rights for the first time in years, a fact that is reflected in the absence of any statement on LGBTIQA+ human rights by the AHRC since October 2021."
“Just.Equal wrote to Mr Dreyfus explaining that the AHRC has no capacity to deal with LGBTIQA+ human rights, and urged him to appoint a dedicated LGBTIQA+ human rights commissioner immediately,” Ms Goldner said.
"In his reply, the Attorney General avoided the issue of an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner but did say the government is investing $49.8 million in the Human Rights Commission for the 22/23 Budget, including $31.8 million towards ongoing base funding.
Mr Dreyfus wrote, "I will continue to engage with the commission to ensure that it is effectively promoting and protecting the human rights of all members of the Australian community, including LGBTIQA+ people."
Ms Goldner said "It is extraordinary that the government has thrown an extra $50 million into the Human Rights Commission but still won’t appoint an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner, or even a policy officer".
“One of the most effective ways to protect and promote the human rights of LGBTIQA+ people is with a dedicated Commissioner."
"That’s why we have dedicated Commissioners for other groups vulnerable to discrimination and human rights abuses, and it’s why an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner was Labor Party policy at the 2018 election,” Ms Goldner said.
"The Prime Minister must earn his right to march in Mardi Gras – and this can happen by starting to put principle into practice rather than just symbolism."
"We need more from a political leader than simply marching in an LGBTIQA+ parade."
Ms Goldner said that since Anthony Albanese became head of the federal ALP he has:
- cut most of Labor's LGBTIQA+ policy commitments from its national platform
- eliminated the LGBTIQA+ Equality Portfolio
- voted for the Morrison Government's Religious Discrimination Bill despite its override of existing LGBTIQA+ discrimination protections
- erased trans men and failed to speak out against anti-trans fearmongering
- refused to rule out allowing LGBTQA+ teachers to be discriminated against by faith-based schools at point of recruitment 
- failed to support bans on conversion practices and on non-consenting medical interventions on intersex children
- failed to establish any permanent liaison with the LGBTIQA+ community
- failed to speak against any LGBTIQA+ human rights abuses around the world
- failed to appoint an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Sally Goldner AM, 0407946242