Push for gay and lesbian law reform in Asia Pacific


Retired Australian High Court judge Michael Kirby has called on political leaders meeting at a summit in Sri Lanka this week to push for the decriminalisation of homosexuality across Commonwealth nations.

The retired High Court Justice, who previously served on the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group on human rights, has thrown his weight behind an Australian NGO that will focus on gay and lesbian law reform in the Asia Pacific.

Kaleidoscope has released a report finding that 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member states criminalise homosexuality, but not in the same way.

Comment: Upholding LGBTI rights globally

"In some countries, the laws aren't enforced, but religious obligations mean their governments never get around to reforming them," Douglas Pretsell from Kaleidoscope says. "In other countries they actively prosecute them."

The Australian group is inspired by the Kaleidscope Trust, an international organisation endorsed by British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg.

Other prominent reform campaigners include Elton John and George Michael.

But their real coup, locally, was to sign up Michael Kirby as their patron.

"The attitude and the law on LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) people is a world problem and until it's addressed as such, we won't solve it, so I thought that's a good aspect of of Kaleidoscope," Michael Kirby says.

The organisation will target the Sri Lanka CHOGM in November, armed with a comprehensive report detailing abuses from murder and rape to imprisonment.  But it will seek to avoid pointing fingers.

"This time round we've worked with activists right across the Commonwealth, from multiple different nations.  They're talking about their home nations, LGBTI in their countries, giving them a voice to speak to their own governments and to the Commonwealth."

Watch: Extended interview with Michael Kirby


Source SBS

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