LGBTI advocates back Greens push for charter of rights

Senator Nick McKim

LGBTI advocates have joined calls from The Greens for a senate inquiry into an Australian Charter of Rights.

Following the passage of marriage equality last year, The Greens want to see Australia establish a bill of rights to solidify the rights of those who are discriminated against in our country.

Greens’ Senator Nick McKim says the impending Philip Ruddock led inquiry into religious freedom is the optimal time to start the conversation.

“We are the only liberal democracy in the world that does not have a bill or charter of rights,” Senator McKim said.

“Ideally, rights would be enshrined in the constitution but that is obviously a long process and one that is difficult unless we have political unanimity.”

Currently, Australia has five rights embedded into our constitution; the right to vote, the right to trial by jury, prohibition of discrimination (based on state), the right of protection against unjust acquisition of property –  and freedom of religion.

LGBTI advocate and just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome says a bill of rights is the best way to ensure balance between freedom of religion, speech, conscience and other rights.

“Australia was one of the last western countries to enact marriage equality because we do not have a national charter of rights to set a standard of legal equality for minorities,” Croome said.

“We have launched a petition to the Ruddock inquiry to religious freedom that calls for the inquiry to endorse a charter of rights.”

just.equal have raised other concerns over the Ruddock review, following an announcement from the Prime Minister’s office that public submissions will not be published – as is usual in such an inquiry.

The Greens may be able to win support from Labor to move ahead on a charter of rights, with Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus suggesting the federal opposition were open to discussion.

“The current national platform contains a pledge to keep the national human rights framework under review to ensure it is fit for purpose,” Dreyfus said.

Public submissions to the Ruddock review are due by January 31st, with the report due to be released in March.

OIP Staff

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