Kaleidoscope Trust Australia Pledge Campaign
Kaleidoscope Trust has recently been establishing a daughter organisation in Australia called Kaleidoscope Trust Australia (KTA). Australia has a pivotal role to play in the global and regional movement to end all legislation that criminalises people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity should be repealed. In establishing the Australian branch of the Kaleidoscope Trust, we are seeking to support activists in places where it is illegal to be LGBTI as well as supporting future Australian governments to play a part in influencing change.
Australia is influential in the Asia Pacific region where there are many countries that still criminalise LGBTI people. For example, there are still laws in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Brunei, Bangladesh, The Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and the Aceh province of Indonesia criminal laws prohibit consensual, private sexual activity between men.
With an Australian election underway, KTA's first campaign was to seek cross party support for a pledge to uphold LGBTI rights in foreign policy. Since the early 1990s, Australia has been a leading advocate for the removal of criminal laws targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. This advocacy has occurred at both a multi-lateral and bi-lateral level and it has occurred under both Labor and Coalition governments. In particular the pledge campaign sought to get the Australian Labor Party, The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Greens to sign up to commitments for:
- Australian support for initiatives at the UN and other multilateral fora to protect the equal rights of LGBTI people
- Advocacy for the equal rights of LGBTI people in Australia's bilateral human rights dialogues
- Australia's active support for the removal of anti-gay criminal laws in the Asia Pacific region
In the 2013 federal election LGBTI rights generally were shaping up to be an issue and strategically this pledge campaign was a good way to raise awareness while securing support from the political parties at a time of potential change of government. Over the course of the campaign Senator Bob Carr, Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, signed on behalf of the Australian Labor Party and Senator Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens, signed on behalf of her party. Although the Australian Liberals did not sign up as a party, private support was voiced by several MPs and senators and the pledge was signed on a personal basis by the Liberal candidate for Melbourne Ports, Kevin Ekendahl.
Dr Douglas Pretsell, provision coordinator of KTA commented:
This pledge campaign has well and truly established Kaleidoscope Trust in Australia opening up important lines of communication with each of the three major parties. This will be particularly important in our work to support the future Australian government when they are participating in multinational fora where LGBTI rights are raised such as the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka this November.