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Australian Foreign Minister pledges support for LGBTI rights

The Kaleidoscope Trust today announced that Senator Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Australian government, has signed a pledge to uphold LGBTI rights in Australia's foreign relations on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. The signing of this pledge reinforces that LGBTI rights are a core foreign policy priority for the Rudd government, as the ALP announced in a press release on July 19. Carr's support for the pledge follows on from that of Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens, who showed her support for LGBTI rights by signing the pledge a fortnight ago.


Australia has a strong part to play in upholding the rights of LGBTI people. Globally there are multinational diplomatic efforts around some of the worst cases of anti-LGBTI violence and criminalisation. Closer to home, in countries where Australia exercises substantial influence, there are still laws which discriminate against LGBTI people. 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 sexual activity between men, laws which the Toonen case found to be a violation of international human rights agreements. Toonen vs Australia was a landmark human rights complaint brought before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) by Tasmanian resident Nicholas Toonen in 1994 that resulted in the repeal of Australia's last remaining anti-sodomy laws. More widely in the region the law fails to protect LGBTI people from discrimination in employment, medical treatment, housing and goods and services. 


Speaking for Kaleidoscope Trust in Australia, Douglas Pretsell said:  


We are especially pleased that the Labor Party has signed our pledge to uphold LGBTI human rights in foreign policy. This comes on top of pledge signed by the Greens a fortnight ago. We are still hopeful that others will make similar commitments.


Lance Price, Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust added:


Kaleidoscope Trust Australia will be working with the future Australian government to support the furtherance of LGBTI rights in the Asia Pacific region and in the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November. Australia has an important role to play and we value the commitment of Australian political parties to our campaign to repeal all legislation that criminalises people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.  Kaleidoscope Trust is seeking to support future Australian governments in this endeavour.