Canberra needs a loud and proud foreign policy on
the human rights of gender and sexual minorities.
Less than a month into his term, US President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Persons around the World.
Biden’s foreign policy focus on LGBTQI rights confirms that it is now time for Australia to step up its commitment to LGBTQI human rights globally and implement its own queer foreign policy strategy. Australia should take the opportunity to advocate for LGBTQI human rights across the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the Pacific.
Queer foreign policy is still new within international relations discourse, but Australia has a unique place in those discussions. The United Nations implemented queer rights into its human rights framework following a 1991 case brough by Tasmanian Nicholas Toonen against Australia at the Human Rights Committee, known as Toonen v. Australia, which found that Tasmania’s criminalisation of male same-sex relations in private breached Australia’s international human rights obligations.
The landmark case has since been used by courts globally and the UN in advocating for LGBTQI human rights, including in India and Fiji.