At 5.15pm on Friday at Melbourne Town Hall, Rodney Croome is joining several other speakers at the national LGBTIQ Better Together Conference to talk about what comes after marriage equality. A central issue for Rodney is the establishment of a national LGBTIQ human rights organisation of the kind that exists in almost every other western country.
A national LGBTIQ human rights organisation is essential for moving forward LGBTIQ equality and inclusion in national laws and policies. The success of the marriage equality movement has shown how LGBTIQ people and our allies can achieve change when we work together at a national level.
Here are three key reasons we need a national LGBTIQ human rights organisation
- Law and policy reform at a national level has lagged behind the states and territories and behind comparable countries. A national organisation will help bring national law and policy making up-to-date.
- For the most part, existing human rights bodies take on LGBTIQ issues as special projects and/or lack a long term and sustained lobbying and advocacy strategy to achieve reform.
- A national organisation will also help ensure a balanced and broad range of human rights issues affecting the entire LGBTIQ community are progressed at a national level.
Here are some of the guiding principles and practices I believe are essential to build a strong and effective national LGBTIQ human rights organisation.
A national organisation should have a national membership to which it is formally accountable. It should hold regular, democratic elections for all office holders. It should also regularly consult with the LGBTIQ community through forums and surveys to ensure its goals, methods and practices represent LGBTIQ people. It should have a transparent process for integrating the findings of these consultations into its work.
A national organisation must have mechanisms to ensure lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and gender diverse, intersex and queer people; diverse racial and ethnic groups including LGBTIQ Indigenous Australians; diverse religious and socio-economic groups within the LGBTIQ community; regional, rural and remote LGBTIQ people; and smaller jurisdictions within the Australian federation, are all represented and have their needs met.
A national organisation must be independent of influence from political parties, community organisations, funding bodies and individual funders. It should be aware of partisan and funder agendas and be able to assert a community mandate over and above them. All decision-making must be transparent and accountable.
High standards for policy-making
A national organisation should always set high national standards for policy and law reform, at least at the same standard set by the best state or territory in Australia and/or the best comparable country. Where possible it should set standards that are ahead of both.
The national organisation should form genuine partnerships with other LGBTIQ and allied groups. These partnerships should enhance the work of these groups and honour their independence.
A national organisation should integrate community experience and professional expertise and have the ability to mix and balance different organisational models so people from community, professional and corporate backgrounds all feel able to contribute. The organisation should have an office in Canberra.
The next step
If the Better Together Conference endorses the formation of a national LGBTIQ human rights organisation, the Conference could establish a working group that will draw up a detailed implementation plan for a national organisation based on the above principles and practices.
This plan would then be discussed, modified and ratified through consultation with the LGBTIQ community using an agreed process. At the end of this consultation period a national organisation would be established.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this: please leave your comments below.