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Advocates call for dedicated LGBTIQA+ rights commissioner

LGBTIQA+ human rights will not be in the hands of new Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine Finlay, according to the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Rosalind Croucher.

Earlier this month, advocacy group Just.Equal wrote to Professor Croucher expressing concern that the Human Rights Commissioner has conventionally held the LGBTIQA+ portfolio but that Finlay has expressed opposition to existing LGBTIQA+ discrimination protections.

“It’s reassuring to learn that our human rights won’t be in the hands of someone who wants to undermine them,” said Just.Equal Australia spokesperson Rodney Croome.

“But we are still concerned about the influence Ms Finlay may have on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s LGBTIQA+ policies, given she is firmly of the belief that ‘religious freedom‘ trumps our existing discrimination protections.

“We call on the government to appoint a dedicated LGBTIQA+ Commissioner to ensure the human rights of LGBTIQA+ people have a stronger voice and a full-time champion.

“In the meantime, we will seek a guarantee from Professor Croucher that the Australian Human Rights Commission will continue to uphold equality, inclusion, and dignity for LGBTIQA+ Australians without carve-outs allowing discrimination in the name of religion.”

In her response to Just.Equal, Professor Croucher said that the Australian Human Rights Commission had decided she would hold the LGBTIQA+ portfolio following the expiry of the term of former Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow.

The Human Rights Commissioner conventionally deals with human rights not already covered by the Race, Sex, Age, Disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice commissioners. 

The Human Rights Commissioner has held the national LGBTIQA+ portfolio since the late 1990s.

Professor Croucher’s letter said that in her new role managing the LGBTIQA+ portfolio, she is finalising the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report into the human rights of people with variations of sex characteristics, particularly in regard to medical interventions. 

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