The link between sport and human rights has come into sharp focus in this country in recent months, after the successful return of former Bahrainian footballer and refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi to Australia. Internationally, there is increasing rights talk in sport. In Australia, athletes have recently raised complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging human rights breaches by domestic sporting organisations. Sporting organisations routinely subject athletes to unique legal rules that lack equivalent rights protections. Often, these unique rights approaches are said to be justifiable on the basis that sport is ‘special’ with unique priorities that must be upheld. But are they justifiable? What happens when we juxtapose existing approaches – to anti-doping, on the one hand, and athletes with differences of sex development, on the other – against one another? What differing conceptions of ‘nature’, the ‘human’, the body and the sanctity of sport, are at play? This presentation will address these issues. It asks whether Australian sporting organisations need to commit to better rights observance in their work and if so, what challenges and obstacles would need to be addressed along the way.
Kate Seear (LLB (Hons), BA (Hons), PhD) is an Associate Professor in Law at the Faculty of Law, Monash University, Australia. She is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2016-2019), a practising lawyer, the Academic Director of the Springvale Monash Legal Service, and an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Social Studies of Addiction Concepts research program at the National Drug Research Institute in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University. She is the author of numerous books, reports and articles, including the books: Law, Drugs and the Making of Addiction: Just Habits (out through Routledge in 2019), Making Disease, Making Citizens: The politics of hepatitis C (with Suzanne Fraser) and The Makings of a Modern Epidemic: Endometriosis, Gender and Politics. She is also an editor of the collection Critical Perspectives on Coercive Interventions: Law, Medicine and Society (with Claire Spivakovsky and Adrian Carter). She is also a founder and co-host of the multi-award winning ABC podcast and radio show The Outer Sanctum. The program focuses primarily on AFL, and considers some of the social, political, cultural and legal issues in sport. The program regularly examines intersections between sport and human rights, violence against women, sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia, as well as diversity, inclusion and fandom.