20 October 2015

Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs, should be held to account for her misleading analysis of international law, the Australian Christian Lobby said today.

Professor Triggs yesterday repeated her contention that, as a matter of law, there is a right to same-sex marriage. She further claimed that it could be concluded from the right to equality before the law.

But under questioning in Senate Estimates, Professor Triggs was forced to acknowledge that she did not know the UN Human Rights Committee has ruled that the right to marriage in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not refer to same-sex unions.

Article 23 refers to “the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry.” The UN Committee held that this specifically referred to opposite-sex unions, and further that disallowing same-sex unions was compatible with the right of non-discrimination and equality before the law.

“Given that the Commission is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Australia, one would think that Professor Triggs would know how it is interpreted,” said ACL legal spokesperson Martyn Iles.

“This is the Commission’s core business, yet it does not know. Why? Groups like ACL have been saying this for years.

"It is disappointing that parliamentarians and government have been misled regarding the legal status of same-sex marriage under international law.

“The incontrovertible fact is that there is no right to same-sex marriage in international law. Not under the ICCPR, not under the European Convention, and not by way of any jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights or the UN Human Rights Committee. In fact, the opposite has been expressly held time and again by these bodies, as recently as this year.”

Mr Iles said that human rights law had become a vehicle for those with a particular ideological agenda to prosecute their causes.

“But when you really look at their claims, the emperor has no clothes. The law does not say what they wish it did.”