A look back at the impact of the Human Rights Law Centre’s LGBTI Rights Unit

A look back at the impact of the Human Rights Law Centre’s LGBTI Rights Unit

Over the last three years Anna Brown, Lee Carnie and the rest of the HRLC team helped secure many important reforms, won a number of landmark legal cases, and helped to shift community attitudes in partnership with LGBTIQ+ community organisations.

  • We launched the M106 High Court challenge to stop the harmful and divisive marriage equality postal survey, then campaigned for a strong Yes vote to secure marriage equality for Australia.

  • We played a pivotal role in ensuring the passage of the legislation to deliver marriage equality, by resourcing MPs across party lines to vote for marriage equality and against hostile amendments aimed at winding back long-standing anti-discrimination protections.

  • We intervened in the Re Kelvin test case which removed unnecessary court involvement in transgender teenagers accessing life-saving medical treatment.

  • We worked alongside local trans advocates to ensure birth certificate reforms removing discriminatory barriers to legal recognition passed in South Australia and the Northern Territory – people like Ethan and Rosalina. We campaigned for broader birth certificate laws in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland - but this work remains unfinished.

  • We advocated that no person should have to choose between the person they love and being legally recognised for who they are – with every jurisdiction except for Tasmania removing the ‘forced divorce’ requirement from their birth certificate laws to achieve full marriage equality.

  • We campaigned until every state and territory in Australia passed laws allowing people to finally erase unjust criminal records imposed for consensual same-sex activity before it was decriminalised, and historic state apologies for the harm caused by these unjust laws of the past.

  • We created an Expungement Legal Service with long-time advocate and volunteer Jamie Gardiner, to provide free and confidential help to dozens of clients to overturn their unjust historic convictions for consensual same-sex activity.

  • We helped our client Canon to pursue a discrimination complaint against Centrelink, which led to training for Centrelink staff and the creation of new policies more sensitive to the needs of trans and gender diverse customers.

  • We acted for compassion and decency from the Australian Government for LGBTI people seeking asylum, and drew attention to the experiences of gay couple Ashkan and Nima during their detention on Nauru.

  • We passionately advocated for the reform of discriminatory adoption and surrogacy laws in Victoria and South Australia, and adoption equality is now a reality across all of Australia.

  • We released the ground-breaking Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice report on conversion therapy with La Trobe University, which revealed the harm caused by these outdated and discriminatory practices, and made sure the stories of survivors were heard. Now the Victorian, ACT and Queensland Governments have all committed to take action to stop this harm.

  • We released a critically important End the Hate report on the urgent need to address and prevent prejudice motivated hate speech and hate crime against LGBTI people.

  • We were a leading voice in ensuring that attempts to protect religious freedom do not undermine the right to equality for other groups in society, during debates on the Religious Freedom Review.

  • We advocated that religious schools should not be allowed to expel LGBTQ students because of who they are again, and again, and again, and again.

The impact of the Human Rights Law Centre’s LGBTI Rights team has been recognised through numerous awards:

  • VAC President’s Award in 2017;

  • ACON Community Organisation of the Year Award in 2018;

  • GLOBE Protecting the Community Award in 2018;

  • Finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission Law Award in 2018; and

  • Lee Carnie was awarded the Thorne Harbour Health Greig Friday Young Leader Award in 2018.

Now these achievements are the starting point for something even bigger. Please sign up at www.equalityaustralia.org.au to be part of the movement for a fair and inclusive Australia.