Advocacy group Just.Equal delivers LGBTIQ+ petition to parliament

just.equal human rights commission lgbtiqa human rights commissioner greens stephen bates
Greens MPs receive a petition on an LGBTIQ Human Rights Commissioner. Image: Supplied

Just.Equal Australia has presented a petition to federal parliament in support of a dedicated LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

Last month, the Albanese government rejected a Greens amendment to establish such a role within the independent body. The Human Rights Commission investigates discrimination complaints and promotes human rights in Australia and internationally.

In Canberra, Just.Equal’s Ivan Hinton-Teoh (pictured, left) handed the 1300-signature petition to Greens Senator David Shoebridge (centre) and Greens MP Stephen Bates (right).

Hinton-Teoh said there was a “definite need” for a specific LGBTIQA+ focused Human Rights Commissioner.

The AHRC has dedicated commissioners for Sex, Age, Race, Disability, Children, Human Rights and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice.

“The LGBTIQA+ community deserves an advocate at the highest level as illustrated by our absence from the [Albanese government’s] recent Jobs and Skills Summit,” he said.

“Just as dedicated commissioners have helped other groups to achieve greater equality, including women, racial minorities, people with disability and First Nations, so a dedicated LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner will help us overcome continued discrimination.”

This week, the Greens will push for a dedicated LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner in the Senate.

Last month, crossbenchers joined the Greens in support of the party’s amendment to appoint one. But Stephen Bates’ amendment was defeated when Labor and the Coalition both voted against it.

“The parties will soon have another opportunity to support our amendment in the Senate, and listen to community members who are calling out for the establishment of this essential role,” Bates said.

“After a decade of divisiveness and attacks on our community, the need for an LGBTIQA+ Human Rights Commissioner couldn’t be clearer.”

Labor rejects Greens amendment for Commissioner

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus rejected the Greens amendment last month on the basis it was not relevant to the government’s bill, which addressed transparency around appointment processes for commissioners.

“While we of course understand the strong sentiment expressed by members of the community in support of a dedicated LGBTIQA+ commissioner, this bill is not the vehicle to create such a position,” Dreyfus said at the time.

“The government recognises that it’s important to consider how best the commission can operate to promote and protect the human rights of all members of the Australian community, including LGBTIQA+ people.

“There’ll no doubt be further discussion on this proposal, as well as, I hope, discussion on other opportunities to strengthen the work of the commission in the future.”

Stephen Bates said the lack of an LGBTIQA+ commissioner within the AHRC was an “obvious oversight”.

“[It] would send a strong and clear message to the LGBTIQA+ community that the era of homophobia and transphobia from the previous government has come to an end,” he said in August.

“[It would] signal a new approach in engaging with and protecting communities that have suffered systemic oppression for centuries.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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