The Courier-Mail

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

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