In light of public discussions in Australia about a Religious Discrimination Bill that would open the doors to discrimination based on sexuality and gender, Twenty10 board director, Cristyn Davies, advocates for the rights of LGBTQ Australians on the global stage.
Davies, who is a senior research fellow in the Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, is one of six Australians chosen by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to represent Australian civil society at the 41st United Nations Human Rights Council Session in Geneva, Switzerland.
After consulting with LGBTQ communities, Davies’ advocacy has focused on the most pressing health issues in an effort to create positive change.
She hopes to help amplify the voices of trans and gender diverse people who are particularly stigmatised and discriminated against when trying to access safe health and education.
“We call on the Australian government to work with relevant civil society organisations and health experts to improve healthcare for trans and gender diverse people,” Davies said to UN delegates.
“Reducing discrimination within health, legal, social, education and community settings is essential to improved mental health and wellbeing.
“For young people, accessing timely, culturally safe medical gender affirmation through publicly funded multidisciplinary services is critical.
“High costs and long wait lists prohibit timely access to medical affirmation, increasing the risk of poor mental health,” Davies concluded.
She has also called for an end to “conversion therapy”, and the removal of exemptions that allow religious schools and universities in Australia to discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers.
Davies has recommended a human rights-based approach to data collection such as questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the Australian 2021 census.
She believes countries will benefit from understanding more about the prevalence and experience of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and, in turn, better practices can be implemented to improve health and education.
In addition to advocating for LGBT rights, Davies has called for the government to act on the high rates of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Her calls to action have been endorsed by the Human Rights Council of Australia. The statements were co-sponsored by the Australian Lesbian Medical Association and the Human Rights Law Centre, and supported by LGBT NGOs, and medical associations.
At the UN Human Rights Council, Davies is working on the renewal of a global mandate to protect against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“My role, as I see it, is to advocate in a global human rights forum to the Australian government to work with LGBT organisations and health experts to ensure the removal of discrimination and violence in Australia,” said Davies.
In an historic vote in June 2016, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to create the role of a human rights ‘Independent Expert’ for the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
It was in response to calls from across the globe to act on serious human rights violations against LGBTQ people.
The role of the Independent Expert (SOGI), currently held by Costa Rican lawyer Victor Madrigal-Borloz, is up for renewal and Australia is one of 47 countries eligible to vote, alongside nations with state sanctioned discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Sixty-nine countries still criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts, and there were approximately 2982 reported killings of trans and gender diverse people in 72 countries worldwide between January 2008 and September 2018.
“If Australia supports this mandate and resolutions advocating against violence and discrimination faced by LGBT people and women, then we need to start at home,” said Davies.
As a senior health researcher specialising in child and adolescent health, Davies is motivated to address health inequity.
“I’m very passionate about it. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning and why I take on volunteer leadership positions and seek out advocacy opportunities outside my academic work. I really love community engagement,” said Davies.
The 41st United Nations Human Rights Council Session winds up on July 12th 2019, upon which the renewal of the Independent Expert (SOGI) will be decided.
“This exceptional work undertaken by Cristyn is directly aligned with Twenty10’s vision as an organisation – to ensure our communities live in a world free from discrimination,” said Twenty10 co-executive director, Jain Moralee.
“Twenty10 could not be prouder of our board director and colleague Cristyn Davies, and her global advocacy for LGBTQ people.”
Twenty10 is a NSW based not for profit organisation that primarily supports LGBTIQA+ young people. Twenty10 can be found on Twitter @Twenty10, Instagram @Twenty10glcs and Facebook @Twenty10incGLCSNSW.
Media requests can be made via Jain Moralee on 0416 663 567 or firstname.lastname@example.org