Advocates Celebrate 20th Anniversary of U.N. Gay Rights Ruling

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On April 11th 1994 Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group announced that the U.N. Human Rights Committee decreed that Tasmania’s laws criminalising homosexuality were a breach of international human rights standards.

The decision allowed the Federal Government the power to override the laws which lead directly to their repeal in 1997. It was also the first time that the United Nations had decreed that human rights protections extended to LGBT people, leading to a precedent that encouraged the repeal of anti-gay laws worldwide.

Nick Toonen, the man who signed the case, said:

“It’s wonderful to look back after twenty years to see how laws and attitudes have changed for the better thanks to the UN’s decision against Tasmania’s former laws.

“I’m prouder than ever of the Tasmanian U.N. decision.”

Today Toonen launched a new human rights organisation, Remedy Australia, that will work to ensure that all UN Human Rights decisions against Australia will have equally successful outcomes.

Remedy Australia will be sending the U.N. showing that Australia only acts on 18% of the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s decision against it.

Tasmania was the last state to criminalise homosexuality, and set a maximum penalty of 21 years in gaol.

Rodney Croome, spokesperson of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Association¬† said: “The UN decision turned Tasmania around with our state not only decriminalising homosexuality but going on to adopt Australia’s most progressive anti-discrimination and relationship laws.”

¬†“The anniversary of the decision is a reminder that there are still human rights violations that Australia can and should act against, including the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.”

Sophie Joske

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