Monday 5 March 2018

The 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was a magnificent celebration of pride, diversity and unswerving commitment to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

“Marriage equality was colourfully celebrated during this year’s Mardi Gras parade. Our history gives us hope that we can now come together to respect and honour the wonderful diversity of our community,” Commissioner Santow said.

“But let’s not lose sight of the fact that there is much work still to be done to achieve full equality for LGBTI people, in Australia and around the world.

“Julie McCrossin, who marched in the first Mardi Gras, made the point well when she said: ‘Back in 1978, there was one truck and a few hundred people. You must be thinking we have come a long way and in many ways, we have. But the struggle that began back in 1978 defined the struggle that continues today.’”

Commissioner Santow said LGBTI people face multiple layers of violence and discrimination. He said trans, gender diverse and intersex people, in particular, continue to experience discrimination in housing, employment, health, education, and sport.

“It is increasingly clear that we need to do more to protect the human rights of people with intersex variations in Australia.

“Recent decisions in the Family Court of Australia have raised important questions about how medical treatment is carried out on children and young people born with variations in their sex characteristics.

“Internationally, UN human rights treaty bodies – most recently, the UN Human Rights Committee – have expressed concern about medical interventions involving Australian children with intersex variations before they are able to provide full and informed consent.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission is working closely with people with intersex variations – as well as their parents and carers, medical practitioners and state, territory and federal governments – to improve human rights protection for people with variations in sex characteristics in the context of medical interventions.

“Addressing the burden of discrimination experienced by LGBTI people in so many areas of everyday life remains a critical issue. The Commission joins with Australian and global communities to reaffirm our commitment to respecting, protecting and promoting the human rights of all LGBTI people.”

Photo: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2018, by Jeffrey Feng Photography.