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Just Equal says anti-Semitism envoy highlights need for LGBTIQA+ rights commissioner

Just.Equal Australia has renewed its call for a national LGBTIQA+ Commissioner following the appointment of Jillian Segal as Australia’s first antisemitism envoy.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the appointment of Segal is in response to rising hate, will “promote social cohesion” and will be followed by the appointment of an envoy against Islamophobia.

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Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said the appointment of these two envoys highlights the gap in protections for Australia’s LGBTIQA+ communities.

“The appointment of envoys against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, highlights the absence of a national official advocating for the LGBTIQA+ community.”

“Rising hate against LGBTIQA+ people demands a response from the federal government in the form of an LGBTIQA+ Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.” Croome said.

Rodney Croome from Just.Equal

“The Australian Human Rights Commission has commissioners for first nations, culturally diverse communities, women, older and younger people, people with disability, and for human rights, but no dedicated commissioner for LGBTIQA+ Australians.”

“This sends the message that the human rights of LGBTIQA+ people, and discrimination against us, are less important.”

Croome said the Sex Discrimination Commissioner has an advisor on LGBTIQA+ human rights, but this is not enough to deal with the many challenges faced by LGBTIQA+ people or to send the message that their rights matter.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Antisemitism Envoy Jillian Segal.

Announcing the new role on Tuesday the Prime Minister said there was no place for violence or hatred of any kind in Australia.

“The appointment of Jillian Segal AO is a critical step in easing the tensions that we see playing out here at home, as a result of the devastating conflict in the Middle East.

“Australians are deeply concerned about this conflict, and many are hurting. In times like this, Australians must come together, not be torn apart.” the PM said.

“We have built our nation’s social cohesion together over generations, and this is why we all must work together to uphold, defend and preserve it.”

Segal has been appointed for a three-year term and will report directly to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.

The Federal Government will also appoint a Special Envoy for Islamophobia and the details of that appointment will be announced shortly.

Jewish Council of Australia raises concern over appointment of envoy

Sarah Swartz, Executive Officer of the Jewish Council of Australia, raised concern over the appointment telling the ABC the government appeared to be making the appointment for political reasons.

“Antisemitism is a serious issue, and we know that its rising, but the way in which the government has appointed this particular antisemitism envoy shows that it is treating this issue meerly as a political issue, not as a racism issue.

“The treatment of antisemitism as distinct from all other forms of racism really undermines the important work that is being done across racial lines to address all forms of racism.” Swartz said.

The organisation’s leader questioned the government’s approach noting the appointment of envoys for specific groups.

“It doesn’t make sense to single out specific forms of racisms, we’re not going to have envoys for every single racialised group. We already have a Race Discrimination Commissioner with a mandate to address racism.”

APAN, a national coalition for Palestinian Human Rights, also questioned the move. President Nasser Mashni told ABC Radio that they do not believe in a “hierarchy of racism”. Mashni said they didn’t beleive there needed to be a special envoy for either antisemitism or Islamophobia.

“Exceptionalising one religion over the rest, elevating the suffering of one people over the rest, is really tearing at the fabric of our social cohension.” he said.

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