ACT Government takes a stand to protect human rights

Released 14/02/2018 - Joint media release

The ACT Government has warned the Federal Government to not impinge on the human rights of Canberrans in a submission to the Commonwealth’s Religious Freedom Review.

Canberra is the most LGBTIQ-friendly city in Australia. Our jurisdiction voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality – with the highest voter turnout and the highest ‘Yes’ vote of any State or Territory.

In releasing our submission on Valentine’s Day,  we want to make sure the Federal Government doesn’t simply replace inequality in marriage with inequality in the provision of goods and services.

Any federal legislation that would lock in discriminatory practices, like denying goods or services to same sex couples getting married, or to anyone based on their sexuality, race, gender or indeed religion, would contravene the ACT’s Human Rights Act and the values of the Canberra community.

This pandering to the right wing conservative arm of the Federal Government is completely out of step with the majority of Canberrans that value our multicultural and progressive community.

The right to Freedom of Religion is no greater or lesser than the right to Freedom from Discrimination. These freedoms must be routinely balanced and limited against each other, and that’s what the ACT’s Human Rights Act does.

We strongly reject any suggestion that the Commonwealth should override or negate the ACT’s discrimination laws as a result of this Review.

Instead, we want to see an ongoing national conversation about the balancing of rights, and we believe a national Human Rights Act like the ACT’s would be a valuable guide, particularly when legislators are facing difficult decisions.

Canberra is a progressive community that wants its elected representatives to legislate on progressive issues. We’ve been blocked from doing that on same sex marriage, when our law was overturned, and on voluntary euthanasia, which we’re still prohibited from legislating on by the Andrews Bill.

We don’t want this review to result in a backward step for the ACT’s human rights framework, which has been developed over decades, through extensive community engagement.

The ACT Legislative Assembly passed a motion last year calling on the Commonwealth of Australia and the Commonwealth Parliament to respect the democratically constituted ACT Legislative Assembly and through it, the self-determination of the people of the ACT. This is the message we reiterate with this submission.

- Statement ends -

Section: Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases

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