Rights groups in Australia this week criticized the government for failing to grant transgender activist Chelsea Manning a visa.
They labeled the government’s lack of decision as ‘chilling’. It was also ‘a galling restriction on the human right to free speech.’
Think Inc invited Manning to Australia. She was set to discuss the potential human rights violations she exposed as a whistleblower.
The outspoken LGBTI advocate will now appear via video link from New Zealand at all the scheduled events. She will also talk about her human rights activism in and since prison.
Manning spent seven years in US military jails after leaking classified military documents to whistle blower website, WikiLeaks. While in custody, Manning transitioned.
President Barack Obama released her by presidential order in the final days of his presidency in 2017.
Early last month, Manning said life after prison had been harder than she’d imagined. She said she was excited to be visiting Australia and New Zealand.
But, Australia issued Manning a ‘Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal under s501 of the Migration Act’ arguing she failed a ‘character test’.
‘By failing to approve a visa for Chelsea Manning, our government has silenced an important voice on human rights’, said Claire Mallinson, Amnesty International Australia’s National Director.
It sends a message that ‘this new Australian government places little value on freedom of speech’, she said.
Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, said: ‘As a democracy we should be encouraging not banning contributions from people like Chelsea Manning.’
‘This is yet another example highlighting the need for far stronger checks and balances over the Minister’s powers under migration laws.’
The coalition of human rights groups argued that Manning’s right to freedom of expression and human rights work outweighed her past criminal conviction.
This week, Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has upset the LGBTI community and human rights advocates. He has made a string of anti-LGBTI comments since he came to office.
On Wednesday (5 September) he tweeted ‘let kids be kids’. He shared an article linking LGBTI-sensitive education to increased cases of transgender young people.
Earlier in the week, Morrison said he would not ‘get involved’ in outlawing gay conversion therapy. Furthermore, he said he found it ‘skin-curling’ that schools taught children about LGBTI topics.