Where are we up to in the fight for gay rights? Was equality achieved when the laws were changed at a federal level in 2008? Will the finishing line be same-sex marriage? Far from it, the harsh reality is that there is still a huge amount of injustice, bullying and abuse of gay, lesbian. bisexual and trans* people. You don’t need to look hard to find it.
Browsing through the reader’s comments on the websites of mainstream media reporting on our most recent Pride Parade was alarming. Many of the straight respondents complained that it was outrageous that their tax payer dollars were used to fund such an event, as if gay people don’t pay tax too.
Other commentators complained about the blatant display of sexuality and sexual acts in the parade, clearly they weren’t actually there. Most alarming was one commentator who noted the great advantage of allowing gay people to march in the parade was that you could identify them and make sure they were not in your workplace.
Earlier this month Benn Dorrington wrote a story that was published on our website highlighting research from Harvard Business School that discovered that in a survey of 3000 GLBT respondents 48% were closeted at work and this had negative consequences. Here in our own country, research by the Diversity Council Australia has found GLBT people are more likely to experience discrimination that the average worker.
Following the publication of the story a large number of people from our local community contacted us and shared their experiences, many of them were very alarming. Readers also contacted us to say ‘forget the workplace. I get abused in the street.’
So it looks like the battle still has a very long way to go. A big challenge lies ahead for our community and political organisations. How do you engage, energise and direct political and social change in 2012 and beyond? Our recent parade shows that the days of shouting ‘We’re here, we’re queer’ have passed, what comes next?