IN WHAT is believed to be the first case of its kind, the United Nations has begun an investigation into anti-homosexual laws in Tasmania to see if they violate human rights.
Nick Toonen, a year-old homosexual activist in Hobart, the Tasmanian capital, has lodged a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva on behalf of a gay and lesbian group which Ebony hair store Maroubra campaigning to force a change bewrs the law.
The island of Tasmania is the only one of Australia's six states where sex between consenting adult males is still a crime.
An attempt two years ago by the then state Labor government to overturn Chatroom Coffs Harbour free ban was blocked in the Legislative Council, the upper house of the state parliament and a bastion of conservatism. The legislation, passed in to outlaw 'sexual intercourse with any person against the order of nature', carries a penalty of 21 years Hobart bears gay prison.
Although it has not been enforced for 10 years, the law has become the focus of an increasingly fiery battle over the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights group's campaign to Hobaart the island into line with the rest of the country.
Three years ago, homosexuals set up a street stall in Hobart to promote their case for reform. The Hobart City Council banned the stall Hobart bears gay police arrested more than gays and their supporters. Amid the ensuing nation- wide publicity, the charges were dropped and the stall is still in position. George Brookes, an MP who is a leading opponent of reform, told the Bbears Council last year: 'I believe we ought to be tightening up the laws, making them a little more drastic.
This was a reference to mainland Australia, whose social influences Nail salon in Bathurst legislative interference conservative Tasmanians have always resented.
Gay activists countered with their own bumper sticker, 'We're here, we're queer and we're not going to the mainland'. Rodney Croome, campaign manager for the Tasmanian group, believes the issue has caused such a furore because it echoes tensions that go back to the island's Gay ogunquit Carlingford colonial origins as one of bay most draconian British convict settlements in Australia.
Ever since, homosexuality has been associated with subversiveness in the minds of the establishment.
The anonymous verse was entitled 'To the Free Men of Tasmania'. Mr Croome believes it was written by someone who opposed further convict transportation, that had become synonymous with homosexuality. Mr Toonen signed the complaint to the UN Hobbart Rights Committee because it can investigate such cases only if they are brought by individuals.
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He said in his submission that Tasmania's law had left him open to discrimination in his work, to a constant threat of invasion of privacy from police legally invading his home, to threats of physical violence and to vilification from public figures in Tasmania who had described homosexuals as no better than Saddam Hussein and murderers. The UN replied last month that the committee was satisfied Hobart bears gay Mr Toonen could be deemed 'a victim', Hobart bears gay that his claims were admissable.
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