Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne has signed a Kaleidoscope Trust pledge to uphold LGBT and intersex rights using diplomacy in Australia’s foreign relations.
The pledge Milne signed read, ‘We make this solemn pledge of our support to the furtherance of LGBTI rights as a strong component of wider human rights through these concrete actions.’
The actions the pledge listed are ‘Australian support for initiatives at the UN and in other multilateral forums to protect LGBTI people from discrimination and persecution; advocacy for the equal rights of LGBTI people in Australia’s bilateral human rights dialogue; [and] Australia’s active support for the removal of anti-LGBTI criminal laws in the Asia Pacific region.’
Milne, a former school teacher, took over from openly gay Greens leader Bob Brown in April of 2012 and has an openly gay son.
The Kaleidoscope Trust, a group dedicated to the human rights of LGBT and intersex people internationally, said Australia had a strong part to play in upholding the rights of LGBTI people.
‘Australia has a pivotal role to play in the global and regional movement to repeal all legislation that criminalizes people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status,’ Kaleidoscope Trust executive director Lance Price said.
‘Kaleidoscope Trust is seeking to support future Australian governments in this endeavor.’
‘Globally there are multinational diplomatic efforts around some of the worst cases of anti-LGBTI violence and criminalization,’ the trust said in a statement.
‘Closer to home, in countries where Australia exercises substantial influence, there are still laws which discriminate against LGBTI people. In Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Brunei, Bangladesh, The Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and the Aceh province of Indonesia criminal laws prohibit consensual sexual activity between men.’
The trust said such laws had been found to be in violation of international human rights agreements since the Toonen vs Australia case brought before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) in 1994 that resulted in the repeal of Australia’s last remaining anti-sodomy laws.
The trust said that more widely in the region national laws failed to protect LGBT and intersex people from discrimination in employment, medical treatment, housing and goods and services.
Kaleidoscope Trust in Australia spokesman Douglas Pretsell said the group had been working with other Australian political parties to gain similar commitments.
‘We have been working with each of the main political parties in the Australian election to secure a pledge to support LGBTI rights in foreign policy and are pleased to have secured the support of the Australian Greens,’ Pretsell said.
The Kaleidoscope Trust was launched in 2011 in the United Kingdom to work to protect the rights of LGBT and intersex people around the world and it has only just established an Australian branch.
The current Australian Government has said it will send LGBT asylum seekers who try to arrive in Australia by boat to be resettled in Papua New Guinea despite that country’s colonial era sodomy laws but the Greens have been pushing for a more compassionate solution.