John Marsden's Impatience and LGBTIQ Rights: The Ongoing Challenges for Equality

Michael Kirby AC CMG


A biennial lecture to commemorate a prominent lawyer and civil libertarian, John Marsden, takes as its theme his commitment to LGBTIQ equality. It collects some positive developments that have occurred in the world since John Marsden’s death in 2006, including judicial decisions and legislative reforms. Most significantly, the advance in the availability of marriage to LBGTIQ persons has been remarkable, although delayed in Australia by parliamentary indecision and by a postal survey. Negative developments are also recorded, most especially the widespread persistence of criminal laws originating in colonial times and a log-jam preventing their reform. The year 2016 saw the establishment of the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council for an Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. That mandate narrowly survived attempts to terminate or defund it in the UN General Assembly in late 2016; but the strength of the negative vote suggests the difficulties that still lie ahead. 

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