Friday, December 10, 2010

Human Rights Day

Today, December 10, is Human Rights Day. On this day we celebrate human rights, and the enactment in 1949 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, the UN's focus is on discrimination, and the people who speak up to oppose it. That's less of a problem in New Zealand than it is elsewhere, but still an issue. Our laws guarantee formal equality, and overt discrimination is no longer socially acceptable, but there is still pervasive racism against some groups, a lot of hidden discrimination (for example, on womens' pay, or the glass ceiling), and serious cases of discrimination in government policy. Our government is currently passing a law which would continue to deny Maori (but not Pakeha) access to the courts or the right to own a beach. Students are still subjected to age discrimination over allowances to save the government money. Same-sex couples cannot marry or adopt. Young people are whipping boys for the fears of the old. These are all black marks on our record, and things we have to change.