Desire for rights laws says a lot about who we want to be
MUCH of the debate about human rights legislation occurs against a background of near hysteria, reacting to myths about what such legislation is, or what it achieves. It often confuses the issues within the environment of party politics, as was the case of Paul Williams’s article in The Courier-Mail on September 3, which created a connection between human rights and union influences in the Labor Party.
The desirability of human rights legislation then becomes conflated with ice addiction, the Palestinian question and environmentalism.
In fact, the momentum developing around a Queensland Human Rights Act involves a broad range of organisations. Representatives of church groups, disability services, community legal centres, universities and other sections of the community will demonstrate their support for human rights legislation next Monday at Parliament House.
But let’s first lose the idea that a Human Rights Act will solve every problem for every individual whose rights are abridged.
Countries with powerful rights legislation still commit egregious breaches of their citizens’ rights. Countries without such legislation may treat their citizens in ways that are generally consistent with the rights articulated in international instruments (eg Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Claims are made that