Good News and Bad News on LGBTIQ+ Rights

A public lecture presented by Michael Kirby AC CMG, former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009)

Since the Wolfenden Report in 1957 reforms have been adopted in many past British Colonies. However, about half the member States of the Commonwealth of Nations still impose criminal penalties on adult, private, consensual sex.

There has been some good news to be acknowledged:
  • Beginning with the Sexual Offences Act 1967 (UK), many criminal laws targeting LGBTIQ+ people have been repealed in many Commonwealth nations. As well, since 2000, following legislation in the Netherlands, marriage equality has been enacted by UK, New Zealand, Australia and other countries;
  • An Independent Expert has been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to encourage domestic change based on UN treaties;
  • Additionally, courts, using constitutional norms, have invalidated previous laws invoking principles of equality, and basic rights. Such judicial reforms were introduced in India, Fiji and other countries;
  • The Commonwealth of Nations has adopted the Commonwealth Charter which upholds equality for all.
  • As a consequence, a greater enlightenment has spread internationally. But slowly in many countries.

However, there has been bad news, including recently:

  • The adoption of capital punishment in Brunei and Uganda for some say offences;
    The enactment of hostile legislation in Russia; Hungary; Poland;
  • Adverse decisions recently of the Privy Council invalidating law reform legislation in Bermuda, Cayman Islands; and Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Statutory reforms in Kenya, Nigeria; and Namibia as well as Jamaica and many Caribbean States;
  • Enactment of hostile laws against trans and drag people in USA; and
  • Election of town council in USA that has banned flying the Rainbow Flag.

The general trend, at least in developed countries is towards acceptance of equality. But many challenges remain. Why is this so? How can we change the fundamental attitudes? What is the role of lawyers to secure these changes? Why am I speaking on this topic?

6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Monday 24 July 2023

Reception: 5.15-6pm (Staff Common Room)
Lecture: 6-7pm (Stone Lecture Theatre)

Stone Lecture Theatre (801-316, Auckland Law School, 9 Eden Crescent Auckland, 1010)