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Advocates celebrate 20 years since UN condemned criminalisation of homosexuality

Advocates celebrate 20 years since UN condemned criminalisation of homosexuality

LAST UPDATED // Friday, 11 April 2014 10:29 Written by // Cec Busby

LGBTI advocates are celebrating the 20th anniversary of a landmark decision by the UN Human Rights Committee which condemned Tasmania’s laws criminalising homosexuality on April 11 1994.

The UN decision on the case, Toonen v Australia, led to the enactment of a federal privacy law and the repeal of the offending Tasmanian statutes. It has also been the basis for gay law reform in other countries, with the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, describing it as “a watershed with wide-ranging implications for the human rights of millions of people”.

"It's wonderful to look back after twenty years to see how laws and attitudes have changed for the better thanks to the UN's decision against Tasmania's former laws," said Nick Toonen who brought the case before the UN. "I'm prouder than ever of the Tasmanian UN decision."

It’s a sentiment shared by Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, who commented, "The UN decision turned Tasmania around with our state not only decriminalising homosexuality but going on to adopt Australia's most progressive anti-discrimination and relationship laws."

Croome added: "The anniversary of the decision is a reminder that there are still human rights violations that Australia can and should act against, including the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage."

Today Nick Toonenand Olivia Ball launched a new human rights organisation, Remedy Australia, which aims to ensure all UN Human Rights decisions against Australia have successful outcomes.


Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and

Comments (2)

  • cec

    11 April 2014 at 15:28 |
    Thanks for your comment John - unequal age of consent and antiquated sodomy laws are indeed still an issue - we will certainly be following this story further.


  • John Frame

    11 April 2014 at 11:37 |
    Queensland remains the last region in Australia which criminalises homosexuality, with a maximum penalty of 14 years under the the blatantly discriminatory "Sodomy Law", Section 208 of the Criminal Code, which applies to 16 and 17 year olds who engage in "sodomy" (anal intercourse), as well as to any older partners they might have. "Consent" is not accepted as a defense in Court. If a school counsellor or principal is aware that one of their students of this age is involved in sodomy they are obliged by Queensland Education Department rules to report the matter directly to Police. The Toonen vs Australia case was quoted by Qld Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth in her 15th July 2005 letter to Labor Attorney-General Rod Welford in which she called for reform action. However Labor under both Beattie and Bligh has flatly refused to enact reform - and the LNP have avowed that they would never even consider it. So it is vital for all media, especially queer media like GNN, to consistently remind the public that Australia has not yet fixed all of its laws which criminalise homosexuality.


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