May 16, 2017

Australia Lagging Behind Its Peers on New ILGBT Rights Score Card




A NEW map has graphically illustrated how Australia is lagging behind its peers. 
On first glance, it might be difficult to see why. After all, Australia is painted green along with much of the Western world. In contrast, much of the Arab world is painted a dark shade of red.
But look closer. Whereas the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand are a deep green, Australia is a far lighter hue.
The map is from the Geneva based International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and, at a glance, shows which countries provide gay people with the most legal protections. And which don’t.
Australia’s light green hue means it has failed to make the top tier of nations when it comes to LGBTI rights. Instead, it is in a secondary league alongside Hungary, Ecuador, Greece, Israel and Croatia.
The map from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s State Sponsored Homophobia report. Nations in green have protections for gay people, those in yellow and orange do not but being gay is not illegal, nations in red are where being gay is illegal.
The map from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s State Sponsored Homophobia report. Nations in green have protections for gay people, those in yellow and orange do not but being gay is not illegal, nations in red are where being gay is illegal.Source:Supplied
An LGBTI rights advocate has said Australia should be “embarrassed” at the lack of progress made while other nations have streaked ahead.
ILGA’s 2017 State Sponsored Homophobia report, which has been published prior to the annual International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on Wednesday, shows 23 nations recognise gay marriage including South Africa, Brazil, the US, Canada and Spain. Most recently, Bermuda, Guernsey and Finland joined the club.
Conversely, same-sex relations were illegal an 72 countries — down from 92 in 2006. Eight countries impose the death penalty for homosexual activity. This punishment is known to be carried out in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as by Islamic militants in parts of Iraq and Syria.
In just the past few months, there have been allegations of “concentration camps” for gay men set up in the Russian region of Chechnya. Human rights groups say some of the men detained have died. But Chechan officials have denied any gay men live in the deeply religious area.
Police detain gay rights activists during a rally marking May Day in St. Petersburg, Russia. Picture: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky.
Police detain gay rights activists during a rally marking May Day in St. Petersburg, Russia. Picture: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky.Source:AP
“A simple look at the map starkly indicates the absence of positive provisions in most parts of the world,” said the report’s co-author Lucas Ramon Mendos.
“They offer food for thought on how states are faring when it comes to denying or upholding our rights, to scapegoating our communities, or situating us on ideological battlefields in national and international political spaces.”
Globally, the picture is a little brighter for gay people in 2017 with a general increase in anti — discrimination efforts.
“Although laws that recognise our relationships and families are on the increase, less than 25 per cent of the world’s states recognise or protect us — that is a sobering thought,” said co-author Aengus Carroll.
Just the weekend, Singapore — where a blind eye is often turned to homosexuality despite its illegality — organisers of the Pink Dot LGBTI rally said recent law changes meant any non-Singaporeans who turned up to the July event could be arrested.
Around a third of UN members states criminalise homosexuality. Picture: Supplied.
Around a third of UN members states criminalise homosexuality. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied
In our own region, the report ranks New Zealand as the most forward thinking on gay rights.
Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu all outlaw homosexuality but only PNG has actually arrested anyone for being gay in the past three years.
Samoa and Tuvalu also have anti-gay laws but the island nations have a lenient approach to transgender people which is far more culturally accepted.
Australia is second only to the kiwis in Asia Pacific. But there has been no progress on same-sex marriage, meaning that Australia is now out of step with much of Western Europe and North America.
Co-convener of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Chris Pycroft, told news.com.au the report’s release showed that Australia was lagging behind its peers in LGBTI equality.
“It’s embarrassing because we are seeing progress made in so many other countries and yet, when you see this report, it show’s absolutely no change (on marriage equality) in our community. 
“It’s something we should be a bit ashamed of when we know the majority of Australians support equality for LGBTI people,” said Mr Pycroft.
The Coalition went to the polls promising a non-binding plebiscite on the issue but the legislation stalled with opponents arguing it was unnecessary and any campaign would cause harm to vulnerable gay people.
So far, calls for a parliamentary vote have gone unheeded.
But despite the lack of action on marriage equality, on a state level some changes to laws have been made during the last year.
Queensland has lowered the age of consent for gay people to 16, to match that of heterosexuals. The state is also erasing the criminal convictions of gay people convicted of crimes, now struck off the statute books, that were committed generations ago.
South Australia has made it easier for trans people to change their gender on birth certificates and now recognise oversee same-sex marriage. This followed the outcry over the heartless treatment of a British man who was honeymooning in Adelaide when his husband died.
“The state’s standing out for the wrong reasons are now NSW and Western Australia,” said Mr Pycroft.
“NSW is now the only state that doesn’t have bisexual people recognized in its anti-discrimination law and that needs to be fixed.”

news.com.au


   

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