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Guest Blog: Racism is a moral bad that our law should combat

April 14, 2014


By Tim Soutphommasane Can you legislate for virtue or eradicate racism through laws? These are questions that have been raised in the current debate about the Racial Discrimination Act. Some, particularly those who favour the Federal Government’s proposed reform to the Act, suggest that combating discrimination is best left to the marketplace of ideas. We […]

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Freedom: the government’s inconsistent approach

April 10, 2014

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By Sarah Joseph Our federal government is committed to promoting greater “freedom”. It has appointed a “Freedom Commissioner”, Tim Wilson, and has asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to conduct a freedom audit of statutory laws. Writing in January, Attorney-General George Brandis described “freedom” as the “most fundamental of all human rights”.  But what does […]

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Should the west be held accountable for gay persecution?

April 8, 2014


By Paula Gerber Media coverage of gays and lesbians in 2014 has followed a very different trend to previous years. Rather than good news stories about love and weddings, the majority of reports relate to violence, persecution and discrimination of LGBTI people. What is behind this apparent increase in hostilities towards gays and lesbians? The […]

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Rights to bigotry and green lights to hate

March 28, 2014


By Sarah Joseph, Monash University AAP/Stefan Postles Poor George Brandis. Our Attorney-General seems to have wedged himself on the issue of racial vilification. Soon after the election of the Abbott government, Senator Brandis defiantly declared that repeal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act would be his first task as Australia’s first law officer. […]

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The Biennale Boycott Blues

March 21, 2014


by Sarah Joseph The Sydney Biennale starts today after weeks of controversy over the severing of its relationship with Transfield, the company that runs the detention centre in Nauru and which will take over the one at Manus island. To recap, several artists withdrew from the Biennale in protest over its sponsorship arrangement with Transfield […]

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New book offers a different perspective on torture

February 21, 2014


A new book by Castan Centre Associate Dr Ronli Sifris, providing another angle on a feminist understanding of international human rights, will be launched in early March. The book, Reproductive Freedom, Torture and International Human Rights: Challenging the Masculinisation of Torture, examines restrictions on reproductive freedom through the lens of the right to be free from torture […]

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We should act on Uganda’s oppression of gays

February 19, 2014


By Paula Gerber Since 2009, Uganda has been threatening to pass legislation further criminalising homosexuality and imposing even harsher penalties. The threat has finally become a reality with President Yoweri Museveni announcing, on Valentine’s Day, that he is now ready to sign the Bill into law, after initially expressing some reservations about it. Although the death […]

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Guest Blog: National pride and national unity: why we should get rid of the racial discrimination in our Constitution

January 26, 2014


By Shireen Morris Australia Day is a day of national pride and national unity – isn’t it? On this day in 1788 Captain Phillip stuck his flag in the sand at Sydney Cove and declared the land British territory, ignoring the people who already lived here. Terra nullius denied Indigenous existence, or at least denied […]

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Queensland’s voter ID laws likely to disenfranchise Indigenous Australians

January 22, 2014

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By Marius Smith Proposed new “voter ID” laws in Queensland are likely to prevent some Indigenous Australians from exercising their right to vote, according to a new submission to Queensland’s Parliament by our Deputy Director Paula Gerber. The new law – which will require all voters to produce proof of identity at polling booths – […]

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Tim Wilson, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and “balancing” human rights

December 20, 2013


by Sarah Joseph (this post was originally published by The Drum on 19 December) Tim Wilson, former policy director for right-wing think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), has been appointed as the human rights commissioner. His remit will be in the area of “freedom”, focusing particularly on freedom of speech. Attorney-General George Brandis explained […]

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