How many lobby groups in Australia have the benefit of receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer funding to promote a blatantly political agenda? The Australian Human Rights Commission, lobby-group extraordinaire and the great arbiter of right and wrong, is such an organisation.
While other lobby groups have to go out and fundraise to support their causes, the AHRC can sit back on its haunches and watch the cash roll in.
In 2009-10, the organisation is reported to have received about $12 million dollars of your hard earned money.
The AHRC has no obligation to make its agenda truly reflective of the community to ensure it receives financial support, as the money keeps coming in anyway.
It can support unpopular causes such as same-sex marriage, as it has done in one of its latest discussion papers, entitled Protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity in Australia (October 2010).
The AHRC doesn’t allow itself to be bothered by the fact that over 80 per cent of Australians voted for either the Coalition or the ALP at the last federal election, and that both major political blocs are opposed to same-sex marriage. Nor the fact that numerous other small parties also support a traditional understanding of marriage. No, the Commission knows better than the overwhelming majority of Australians.
Preoccupying itself with concerns irrelevant to most people is what the AHRC does best.
Rather than content itself with the fact that there is already more than ample protection against sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity discrimination at the state level, the AHRC sees nothing wrong with the Commonwealth duplicating these laws.
The AHRC has to justify its existence and the swag of taxpayer money it’s been allocated. The less left over at the end of the financial year the better — one wouldn’t want to risk a well-deserved budget cut.
But we shouldn’t be all that surprised at this nonsense. The AHRC has a habit of producing some rather kooky stuff. Demonstrating once again that it has too much money and personnel, the AHRC discussion paper lists all sorts of different gender “identities”.
There is “transgender, trans, transsexual and intersex”. There is also “androgynous, agender, a cross-dresser, a drag king, a drag queen, genderfluid, genderqueer, intergender, neutrois, pansexual, pan-gendered, a third gender, and a third sex” (page 2). Haven’t seen any toilets designated as such, but if the AHRC has its way, I guess it is only a matter of time.
Even with all these terms you still have to be cautious you don’t offend someone. That’s why there is a “note on terminology” to begin with. In it the Commission “acknowledges the significance of terminology” and that the “use of inappropriate terminology can be disempowering”.
But wait, there’s more. Also acknowledged is that “terminology is often contested”. One cannot be too careful when it comes to these important matters.
Proving that they are a bright bunch at the AHRC, the discussion paper informs us that sex “is more generally understood as to whether a person is male or female”.
Yes, it would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. This is what your hard-earned tax dollars are being wasted on.
Forget real human rights. The Commission is too concerned with pseudo “rights”, such as allowing male employees to wear dresses to work. And don’t worry about how having such an employee may affect your business. The Commission doesn’t worry about your possible losses, so neither should you.
Of course, the Commission has a history of being rather selective in its application of human rights, and being blatantly bigoted too.
Take, for instance, the comments two years ago of the then AHRC’s Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma. The ABC reported him as having declared that “there is evidence of a growing fundamentalist religious lobby, in areas such as same-sex relationships, stem-cell research and abortion”, and that “there is a balance to be struck between the freedom to practise a religion and not pushing those beliefs on the rest of society”. (ABC News, September 17, 2008).
Such biased and gratuitous comments do nothing to inspire confidence in the impartiality of the AHRC as it sets about determining which freedoms Australians should be allowed to enjoy.
Mr Calma seemed to be saying that because people do not agree with his views, they shouldn’t be able to lobby or even freely practise their own beliefs.
All this is very disturbing. A Commission avowedly committed to human rights should be expected to uphold them, not clamp down on them.
If left-wing human rights activists want to promote a radical agenda, let them do so at their own expense, not at the expense of taxpayers. Let them go out into the community and raise millions of dollars by their own efforts. Let’s see how long their cause would last then.
Jerome Appleby is an Arts/Law Graduate and is South Australian state officer of the National Civic Council and Australian Family Association.
Consultation: Protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex and/or gender identity (Australian Human Rights Commission, October 2010).
“National religious freedom review to be launched”, ABC News, September 17, 2008.