At a precipice: Sexual orientation, human rights and health in Australia

Stream: Panel 62 - Human Rights & Democracy: Human Rights & Democracy Panel 2: The State of Human Rights Challenges in Australia
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 9.00 am – 10.30 am


Australia is at a political cross-road concerning sexual orientation, human rights and health. Whilst significant shifts in public attitudes, and legislative frameworks, concerning sexual orientation have occurred in many comparable jurisdictions over the past two decades, Australia’s embrace of these developments has been relatively slow. This paper explores legislative and policy developments at a federal level from 2008 – 2016, under both Labor and Coalition governments in three areas that remain subject to significant public debate: (1) anti-discrimination law reform, (2) HIV and (3) marriage equality. I argue that in light of international human rights jurisprudence in this area, evolving social attitudes, new treatments for HIV and testing technologies, Australia is ideally placed to make significant advances in respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of all people with respect to their sexual orientation, delivering on the right to health in real, and measurable, ways. The challenge, however, is marshalling the requisite political will to achieve this, at all levels.


Jed Horner (Presenter), UNSW
Dr Jed Horner is a Project Director for the Australian Human Rights Centre at UNSW Law, where he leads work on health, human rights and sexual orientation. He has worked on policy development and law reform for equality in NSW and nationally, including through direct lobbying around amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act in 2013, which now provide protection on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status for Australians.