Human Rights Forum at Outgames begins
With an agenda to increase awareness of and highlight critical human rights abuses against LGBTI people across the Asia Pacific region, the Human Rights Forum at the Asia Pacific Outgames aims to facilitate connections, and empower the LGBTI community to harness their energy for change.
Addressing the attendees at the opening of the forum, keynote speaker, the honourable Michael Kirby encouraged the audience to not only fight for LGBT rights but for human rights for all, suggesting human rights abuses must not be tolerated.
Kirby also reflected on recent changes to LGBT rights around Australia and the globe. Whilst hopeful of better protection for lesbian and gay people in Australia since recent changes were made to the anti-discrimination act, Kirby was not so optimistic when it came to human rights abroad. Kirby drew attention to the plight of our LGBTI brothers and sisters in countries such as Uganda – where homosexuality is criminalised – and India, where a high court judgement repealing sodomy laws was recently re-instated on appeal. He encouraged the LGBTI community to mobilise for change and push for universal human rights.
Kirby also took time out to praise out sportsmen, former Olympian Matthew Mitcham, suggesting Mitcham was a great champion for the LGBTI community.
“He won the gold medal at Beijing and gained the highest score awarded for diving ever at the Olympic Games: and then when interviewed after this remarkable achievement, promptly acknowledged his partner. The first time an Olympic winner has acknowledged his partner And Matthew is like that all the time. He is a product of his generation. To him it is no big deal – but it is a big deal. Matthew gives leadership for the community.”
Kirby also praised AFL player Jason Ball and the recent signing of an anti-homophobia framework by the football codes and Cricket Australia, saying they signified an "attitude change, and a movement towards change".
Finally Kirby shared stories of his work advocating for human rights and finished up by outlining his “ten commandments” for human rights.
The Outgames Human Rights Forum will continue until May 16. The forum’s themes are: Being heard, naking connections, harnessing our energy for change, supporting young emerging leaders, building movements for change.