The United Nations Human Rights Council has heavily criticised Australia for its stance against same-sex marriage during a periodic review of Australia’s commitment to human rights.
While most of the Council’s attention was directed towards condemning Australia’s controversial asylum seeker policies, a number of countries on the council including Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Iceland spoke out about Australia’s failure to keep pace with other first world Western nations when it comes to marriage equality.
The Netherlands line of questioning pushed Australia to make legislative changes to end discrimination towards same-sex couples wishing to marry, while Sweden took it a step further, questioning why Australia won’t even recognise same-sex couples who have already been legally married overseas.
‘Is Australia willing to revise the Marriage Act 1961 in such a way that equality is ensured and that same-sex couples and people with diverse sex and genders will be granted access to the civil institution of marriage?’ a representative for the Netherlands asked the Australian contingent which included former Attorney General Philip Ruddock.
Ireland too was pointed in its assessment, stating that they “encourage Australia to take steps towards equal recognition of same-sex marriage.”
The news isn’t all bad though with Australia declaring that by 31 July 2016, states and territories will no longer be able to make LGBTI citizens exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act, such as Queensland’s controversial adoption laws which ban same-sex couples.