Australians must do more to stand up for LGBT+ rights - Speech, Federation Chamber

SPEECH, FEDERATION CHAMBER

THURSDAY, 24 MAY 2018

During my lifetime we in Australia have decriminalised homosexual acts between consenting adults. We have removed many forms of institutionalised discrimination against LGBT+ Australians. And we have belatedly legislated same-sex marriage.

There is more to be done in Australia, but there is much more to be done around the world. According to the ILGA's 2017 report, as of May 2017, 72 states continue to criminalise same-sex consensual activity—that is, more than one-third of the world's nations. There are currently eight nations in which the death penalty is imposed as a punishment for same-sex consensual sexual acts.

Let me go to some examples. This month in Malaysia we saw the release of Anwar Ibrahim, but it is a reminder that Malaysia continues to make sodomy illegal under section 377 of the Penal Code, which prohibits ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. In Bangladesh in the capital Dhaka, Xulhaz Mannan, the founder of Bangladesh's first and only LGBT magazine, was brutally hacked to death as punishment for his activism on behalf of same-sex-attracted Bangladeshis. In Tunisia, Bouhdid Belhedi, a campaigner for LGBT rights, was assaulted by Islamic extremists and beaten by a mob outside his house in Tunis as a policeman watched.

In Ecuador, gay people are forced to undergo conversion therapy in secret clinics, where they are raped and beaten even though homosexuality is legal. Since the 2013 military intervention in Egypt, at least 250 LGBT+  people have been arrested. In Aceh, the Indonesian police recently arrested 12 transgender people. In Iran, gay men are sometimes hanged. In Russia, homophobic violence is on the rise. In Syria, there are media reports of LGBT individuals being thrown from tall buildings head first and then stoned by bystanders. And although homosexuality is legal in Turkey, it has one of the worst records of human rights violations against LGBT+ people in Europe.

Homosexuality is not a choice. Being transgender is not a lifestyle. Equality is indivisible. Human rights are universal. It doesn't matter whether you approach politics from the standpoint of freedom or from the standpoint of equality. As individuals, as civil society, as government, Australians must do more to stand up for LGBT+ rights around the globe.

ENDS

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra


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