Advancing LGBTQIA+ human rights with Equality Australia

Human rights issues facing LGBTQIA+ people across the globe will be explored on a world stage in March 2023, when Sydney WorldPride hosts the largest LGBTQIA+ Human Rights Conference ever to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. Former Allens Associate Danielle Yung has been seconded to pro bono partner Equality Australia, the leading LGBTQIA+ legal and human rights organisation tasked with bringing the conference to life, alongside pride leaders, change-makers and icons of the movement.

As the Conference Project Manager, Dani has been involved in extensive consultation with community and the First Nations and International Advisory Boards for the conference, meetings with members of parliament and managing over 200 speakers from across the globe. Dani says it's incredibly significant for Sydney to be staging the event.

'Equality Australia have taken a global approach to programming the conference, but hosting an event like this in the Southern Hemisphere is particularly significant because there will be an unparalleled focus on amplifying First Nations voices and highlighting human rights issues in Asia Pacific. To use the words of Equality Australia's latest campaign, it's an unprecedented chance for us to focus on 'what's next?' to achieve equality at home and abroad,' she said.

'There are currently still 67 countries where homosexuality and/or some forms of gender expression are criminalised. Even in Australia, while significant progress has been made, many LGBTQIA+ rights issues remain unaddressed. Reforms are particularly needed to address unnecessary intersex medical interventions, end conversion practices, ensure access to legal gender recognition for trans and gender diverse people, and to remove broad legal exemptions that allow religious schools and service providers to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people, including LGBTQIA+ people of faith. ' Dani added.

She says the goal for the Human Rights Conference is to be a catalyst for substantive change, and hopes it will shine a light on the violence, discrimination and marginalization that many LGBTQIA+ people face around the world.

'There is a huge opportunity to harness the unique convergence of LGBTQIA+ leaders - government officials, human rights defenders, corporates, civil society and academics - to create lasting outcomes for LGBTQIA+ people' Dani said.

Over the course of the three-day exploration of LGBTQIA+ human rights, speakers will include Federal and State Government representatives, along with Victor Madrigal-Borloz (the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity), Jessica Stern (US Special Envoy on LGBTQIA+ people) and Edwin Cameron (former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa).

Alongside the core program, Equality Australia is working to ensure that there are opportunities for bi-lateral and multi-lateral engagement, pre-conference caucuses and important discussions that they hope will lead to real changes – such as societal shifts, steps towards legislative reforms, decriminalisation and, importantly, commitments from governments and corporates to dedicated LGBTQIA+ policies and strategies, increased LGBTQIA+ financial assistance and human rights.

On a personal note, Dani recognises the magnitude of what she is setting out to help Equality Australia achieve.

'As an LGBTQIA+ identifying person myself, the conference also feels personally significant. It's a real privilege to have a say in the voices that will be heard and be able to play a role in affecting positive change using the skills I've built in law. There is a real opportunity for Australia to play a leading role in this domain, which is exciting.'