An Open Letter By the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG

Patron of the AHRI LGBTIQ Inclusion Award

I join in the celebration of Pride Month.  Although these times have been difficult because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge to every society on the basis of departures from universal human rights goes on.  Sometimes it gathers momentum.

In the United States, record crowds of protesters of every race have joined in demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, consequent upon police violence that effectively strangled him.

Demonstrations in support of the messages of racial equality have also arisen in Australia.  Whilst Australia’s record on racial discrimination has not been as bleak as that of the United States, we have a long history of racial inequality.  This includes discrimination against Aboriginal Australians and their rights; against Chinese immigrants under White Australia; and against some refugees.  Our failure to address shocking statistics of Aboriginal imprisonment and lack of prosecutions arising after Aboriginal deaths in custody leave us highly exposed. 

Whilst progress has been made on LGBTIQ issues in Australia, much remains to be done.  This is so in our own country and in neighbouring countries where criminal and other laws impose discrimination.

Each group affected by discrimination must be sensitive when it involves other vulnerable groups.  This is a lesson I have learned from my experience as a gay Australian growing up in a land with too much inequality.  We should reflect on these realities in Pride Month 2020.

How is your organisation celebrating Pride Month? Do you have an idea on how we can all be a better ally to our LGBTIQ+ community? Let us know in the comments section of the LinkedIn post.