Free + Equal Human Rights Conference in Sydney for Vivid

Equality Australia's Ghassan Kassisieh will speak at the conference. Photo: Equality Australia.

The Free + Equal Human Rights Conference aims to build momentum towards the introduction of an Australian Human Rights Act.

Leading human rights advocates will give a massive boost to efforts to introduce an Australian Human Rights Act at a historic forum in June during the Vivid Sydney festival.

The line-up of over sixty speakers includes eminent experts, thought leaders, social justice advocates and community heroes who will provide an inspirational blend of views, insights and perspectives at the two-day event.

Waleed Aly, Jennifer Robison, Michael Kirby, Adam Spencer, Nazeem Hussain, Tanya Hosch, Sisonke Msimang and Rosalind Croucher will kick off proceedings with the Rights On Time panel show on Thursday 6 June, and Narelda Jacobs will emcee the full day conference on Friday 7 June.

A Human Rights Act for Australia

A week before the conference, the Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is set to release its anticipated report into a new national human rights framework, including whether an Australian Human Rights Act should be enacted.

“An Australian Human Rights Act would be a major reform that would have a significant impact on Australia’s legal, justice, government, civil society and business sectors, so understanding the trajectory of its introduction is vital for people working across these areas,” says Australian Human Rights Commission President Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher.

“Coming hot on the heels of the PJCHR’s report, the Free + Equal Conference is a not-to-be-missed gathering for anyone with an interest in human rights to be involved in a very timely discussion about how we can advance human rights in Australia and build momentum for the introduction of an Australian Human Rights Act.”

Delegates will learn about the benefits and opportunities a Human Rights Act will deliver as well as how to activate community support and engagement for this long overdue reform.

Sessions will also focus on other key human rights-related issues including enhancing Australia’s anti-discrimination laws, preventing racism, improving children’s rights, exploring the intersection of business, technology and human rights, and will mark 40 years of Australia’s ground-breaking Sex Discrimination Act.

LGBTQIA+ advocacy at the conference

Equality Australia’s Anna Brown and Ghassan Kassisieh, and Australia GLBTQIA+ Multicultural Council (AGMC) board member Aisya Zaharin are among those speaking at the conference.

Equality Australia legal director Ghassan Kassisieh says the conference provides the chance for LGBTQIA+ people to be part of a national conversation about how we can treat people in this country more fairly and equally.

“An Australian Human Rights Act would ensure that governments must consider the implications of their decisions on real people before they make them,” Kassisieh says.

“For example, a Human Rights Act could have better protected LGBTIQ+ people when the Turnbull Government decided to conduct a postal survey on the value of our relationships.

“But a Human Rights Act is not all we need to talk about. Carve-outs in our national anti-discrimination laws mean that religious schools and organisations can fire, expel or treat unfairly LGBTQ+ teachers, students and people who need their services.

“We need urgent reforms to our anti-discrimination laws to ensure our laws protect all of us, equally.


“Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown and I will be focussing on gaps in our federal anti-discrimination laws that leave our community vulnerable to legal discrimination.

“As our groundbreaking national report Dismissed, Denied and Demeaned has found, LGBTQ+ people continue to experience endemic discrimination in religious schools and organisations across the country every day.

“The Albanese Government made a commitment at the last federal election to remove these carve-outs, and now is the time to act on these overdue reforms.

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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