TREATY BODIES: FIVE YEARS OF RESEARCH SHOW INTERNATIONAL LAW INCREASINGLY PROTECTS LGBTI PERSONS’ RIGHTS

ASIA PACIFIC ALLIANCE FOR SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS (APA),  2020

The United Nations Treaty Bodies are an authoritative source of international law, and have steadily contributed to protecting the human rights of LGBTI persons. A review of their activities in 2017 and 2018, released by ILGA World, shows that references to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) made by the committees have hit an all-time high.

The report on  United Nations Treaty Bodies: References to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex characteristics’ is a comprehensive annual compilation and analysis of all the SOGIESC references made by nine UN Treaty Bodies (CESCR, HRCtee, CEDAW, CRC, CAT, CRPD, CERD, CMW and CED) in 2018, produced by ILGA.
It investigates the Treaty Bodies’ General Comments (interpretations of the international human rights treaties), Individual Communications (complaints brought by individuals or organisations), Lists of Issues (issues and questions sent to the States parties before the main review) and Concluding Observations (country-specific concerns and recommendations).

In 2018, Treaty Bodies made a record high of 138 SOGIESC references and recommendations. This is more than 2.5 times growth from 2014, and active participation of CS groups was one of the important factors contributing to this.  

How did Asia Pacific countries fare?   Here’s all the AP countries under review in 2018, by treaty. 

Highlighted countries received recommendations on LGBTI and/or had civil society reports that mentioned LGBTI :

·         2018 Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights :  Bangladesh, New Zealand (read more on p22)

·         2018 Human Right Committee (ICCPR) : Lao 

·         2018 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women:  Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Lao, Malaysia, Nepal , New Zealand, R of Korea, Samoa  (read more on p. 44)

·         2018 Committee on the Rights of the Child:  Lao, Marshall Islands, Palau, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka (read more on p 57)

·         2018 Committee Against Torture:  [Canada*], Maldives, Russia,  Viet Nam, (read more on p 64)

·         2018 Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Nepal, Philippines, Russia (read more on p 73)

·         2018 Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: China, Iraq, Japan, Nepal, R of Korea  (read more on p 80)

·         2018 Committee on Migrant Workers:

·         2018 Committee on Enforced Disappearances:  Japan (read more on p 90)

NOTE: Central Asia was not included in the above listing. Canada was included as there is a member organisation there.

 

SHINE SA a signatory to the South Australian joint statement against the Religious Discrimination Bill

February 27th, 2020

We the undersigned represent a range of researchers, community service organisations and advocacy groups that support communities throughout South Australia. We are united in our concerns about the draft Religious Discrimination Bill and its potential to cause harm to the communities we serve.

We respect the diversity of Australia and celebrate the multitude of beliefs, identities and cultures that co-exist within our society. We likewise celebrate the various faiths throughout Australia and value the ability for such diverse communities to exist media rpeacefully with one another.

While we respect the Government’s intent to craft a Religious Discrimination Bill that will protect religious Australians from being discriminated against, we are deeply concerned that the current Bill goes too far. Anti-discrimination legislation should protect people from being discriminated against, but this Bill will allow religious Australians, and religious organisations, to discriminate against people who are different from them.

All Australians should be protected equally by the law, regardless of who they are or what they believe. It is for this reason that we call on the Government to reconsider this Bill to ensure that any legislation that is passed protects all of us from discrimination rather than handing some Australians a license to discriminate against others.
For the sake of Australia’s harmonious diversity, we ask all Federal politicians to stand with us in finding a better way forward.

Signed by:

• Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch)
• Child and Family Focus SA
• COTA SA
• Justice for Refugees SA
• Public Law and Policy Research Unit
• SA Lived Experience Leadership & Advocacy Network (LELAN)
• SA Unions
• SHINE SA
• SOS Copper Coast Suicide Prevention Network
• South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS)
• South Australian Network of Drug & Alcohol Services (SANDAS)
• South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA)
• St John’s Youth Services
• Youth Affairs Council of South Australia (YACSA)

“SARAA believes in an Australia free from discrimination, but the Religious Discrimination Bill won’t accomplish this. The law should protect people from discrimination, not give a right to discriminate. LGBTIQ South Australians have been clear that they don’t support the current Bill and SARAA is pleased to see so many other organisations taking a stand against it, too. We know this Bill will harm many sections of Australian society and we hope the government will listen to our concerns to find a better way forward.”

– Matthew Morris, Chair, South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance 

“Fourteen community organisations and research groups have come together through the Rights Resource Network SA to raise their voice about the impact of the draft Religious Discrimination Bill on the lives of South Australians.  We have our own system of equal opportunity laws in this state that businesses, community organisations and individuals comply with and rely upon.  They are not perfect, but they don’t deserve to be overridden by proposed federal laws that will elevate the rights of some over the rights of others.  Rather than go ahead with this legally complex and divisive proposal, these thirteen diverse organisations urge the Federal Government start again when it comes to designing legal protections against religious discrimination.  We urge South Australian federal and state Members of Parliament to listen to the concerns of their constituents when it comes to responding to this draft Bill.”

Dr Sarah Moulds, Co-Founder, Rights Resource Network SA and Senior Lecturer in Law the University of South Australia

“There are already a range of existing federal and state laws specifically designed to eliminate discrimination – particularly when it comes to employment. This legislation will create enormous uncertainty about the operation of these laws and will also introduce a considerable compliance burden for all businesses including community sector organisations. SACOSS believes it would be preferable to address any concerns about securing “religious freedoms” using the same framework established in existing discrimination laws.  If not, then one of the best ways we to protect crucial human rights and freedoms would be through the development of a national Bill/Charter of Rights. It is absolutely imperative this proposed Bill is either voted down or properly amended to ensure key issues are addressed so that harmonious and co-operative Australian workplaces are not compromised and that all Australians have their rights enabled.”

– Ross Womersley, CEO of the South Australian Council of Social Service 

“The Religious Discrimination Bill does nothing to improve protections against discrimination on the grounds of religion. In fact, it makes the situation worse for tens of thousands of South Australian workers in religious aged care facilities, hospitals, accommodation providers, educational bodies, and charitable institutions. Not only are those workers expressly excluded from the Bill’s protection, but discrimination against them based on their personal religious belief or activity is specifically permitted and encouraged by the Bill. In addition, all workers in the public sector are completely excluded from protections. The Bill will create a risk of increased confusion, conflict, uncertainty and harm in Australian workplaces and should not be passed in its current form.”

Angas Story, Secretary SA Unions

 

SIN and Scarlet Alliance Joint Media Release: Sex workers devastated as Lower House vote against industrial, health and human rights for sex workers

SIN and Scarlet Alliance, 13/11/2019

Sex workers in South Australia and throughout Australia are heartbroken after the Members of the House of Assembly turned their backs on the rights and safety of sex workers in SA, despite widespread community support for decriminalisation of sex work.

The long awaited and widely  claimed SA Decriminalisation of Sex Work Bill 2018 was narrowly defeated in the 2nd reading of the Lower House by just 5 votes. Nineteen members voted to pass the Bill and twenty four votes against.

 

HIV & the Law: updated content from ASHM

Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine, 2019

The NEW Guide to Australian HIV Laws and Policies for Healthcare Professionals includes two new sections on Mandatory Testing for HIV and My Health Record.

This resource aims to provide health care workers with information on legal and ethical responsibilities under various laws and regulations related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It does not contain legal advice. Those seeking advice on individual cases should contact their health department, solicitor or their medical defence organisation as appropriate.

In the interests of brevity, laws have been summarised and re-written specifically as they relate to HIV. In many instances key legislation is more broadly targeted at a range of infectious diseases (with definitions varying by state).

All efforts have been made to ensure the content is current at time of publication.

Adelaide abortion clinic calls for safe access from protesters

InDaily,  31/5/19

Staff at an Adelaide abortion clinic have called for safe access zone laws due to pro-life supporters they claim stand near the centre, holding placards and photographing and filming people entering and leaving.

Unlike New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria, South Australia has no safe access zone laws that restrict protests and other activities outside abortion clinics.

 

Decriminalisation of sex work in south Australia (SHINE SA Media Release)

SHINE SA,  

On 31 May 2019, the Sex Industry Network (SIN) will gather at Parliament House to rally for the decriminalisation of the South Australian sex industry and to recognise International Sex Workers Day.

In South Australia sex work is criminalised, prohibiting sex work so that those engaging in relevant activities can be prosecuted for criminal offences. SIN and Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) advocate for decriminalisation which is seen as a best practice model by sex workers and community-based organisations.

In a recent statement SIN said:

“Sex work is skilled labour. We deserve the same industrial protections as any other worker in South Australia and, currently, what sets us apart is the criminalisation of the industry within which we CHOOSE to work.”

Natasha Miliotis, Chief Executive of SHINE SA said:

“We support the work of SIN and their advocacy for the decriminalisation of sex work in SA.

Amnesty International, the United Nations and the World Health Organization have all called for the full decriminalisation of consensual sex work as the scientific evidence is now clear – criminalisation itself leads to harm¹.

From a public health perspective decriminalisation is important to not only reduce stigma and discrimination, but to improve the health and safety of workers, clients and the broader community².”

For more information on SIN’s celebration of International Sex Workers Day and the rally for the decriminalisation of the South Australian sex industry visit www.sin.org.au.

For further information contact Tracey Hutt, Director Workforce Education and Development via email  or via telephone on 0434 937 036

 

 

¹ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30532209

² https://theconversation.com/new-report-shows-compelling-reasons-to-decriminalise-sex-work-83955