Human Rights

1 Dec | '2022

There has been a concerning rise of violence against women and minority groups not only here in Australia but around the world. We’ve seen an increasing number of attacks on Jewish places of worship, schools and businesses. People are marching in the streets in Iran in protest of the unacceptable and abhorrent violence being carried out against women and girls by Iranian authorities, not to mention their treatment of the Baha’i faith community, which I spoke about earlier this week during my private member’s motion. In the United States, we saw a gunman open fire in a Colorado LGBTIQ+ nightclub, killing five people and injuring 19 others. With the ongoing war in Ukraine and the treatment of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the Uyghur community in China, the list goes on.

Sometimes it feels as though we’ve taken five steps forward in reaching equality and in celebrating diversity, and yet at the same time we take three steps back. Last week was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and I acknowledge the speech that the member for McPherson gave in the chamber. In Australia, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, and it’s an absolute tragedy that this continues in our country.

Yet, with that statistic in mind, we know that there are women in other countries who are in much, much worse situations and who have no rights—in Iran, for example. Many in this place have condemned the actions in Iran following the violent arrest and death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini for not covering her hair with a hijab. For the past two months, Iranian women have marched through the streets, burnt their hijabs and cut off their hair in protest against the Islamic Republic and the treatment of Mahsa. Human rights groups have reported more than 300 protesters, including children, have been killed, and an estimated 15,000 people have been arrested.

The coalition stands with the Australian-Iranian community and condemns the actions of the so-called morality police and the treatment of women and girls in Iran. We continue to call for tangible action, including targeted sanctions, in response to violence and human rights abuses in Iran. We call on the Albanese government to stand consistent with other countries. We also stand with the Australian Baha’i community in condemning the mistreatment and persecution of Baha’is in Iran, who have been routinely persecuted, arrested, detained and imprisoned because of their beliefs.

In January 2020 I visited the refugee megacamps of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh with Save the Children, and I thank them for that delegation. In that environment, women and children are exposed to gender based violence constantly. Families take measures to hide young women, who are often kept hidden until they are of age to be married, which oftentimes is 12 years of age. The Australian government provided safe places during the day, where women and children gathered to sleep safely and to engage with one another for support, and also some $700 million at that time.

I also want to mention the senseless killing of five people at Club Q in Colorado, in the United States. This was a place where people of the LGBTIQ+ community went to feel safe, and yet many of them may never feel safe again because of the ignorant and violent actions of one man. It’s not the first time that an LGBTQI+ community has been attacked, and, unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be the last. We’ve had enough. We must condemn the actions of those who choose violence and who seek to persecute those who are different because of their faith, their gender or, simply, who they love. I’m proud to live in Australia, a country where you can practise your faith freely and live without fear of persecution because of your beliefs, but we all need to do more to defend the human rights of minority groups wherever they face oppression and persecution across the world. And I acknowledge the comments made before me by the member for Bass.

We stand with all of you, and we condemn those who persecute, marginalise, discriminate or commit violence against anyone—but particularly violence against women and children. To those of Jewish, Rohingya, Uyghur and Baha’i faith, to the LGBTIQ+ community and to women: there is no room for these actions in our world.

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