Homophobia alive and well in Queensland

New research from a Queensland study has uncovered startlingly high levels of homophobic abuse in the state.

1,100 people from the LGBT community took part in the survey; the largest sample size to review instances of harassment and violence against the LGBT people in Queensland.

The study Speaking Out: Stopping Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse in Queensland found that around 70 per cent of gay and lesbian Queenslanders have been verbally abused, with 53 per cent experiencing it within the past two years.

University of Newcastle senior lecturer and co-author Alan Berman said too little was being done about homophobic abuse in the state.

’59 per cent of participants considered abuse too minor to report, 9 per cent feared further violence and 8 per cent feared they would be outed,’ Dr Berman said.

75 per cent of victims did not report abuse to the authorities as Dr Berman explained that Queensland Police were allegedly not doing enough.

‘There’s a major problem with the police liaison in Queensland; there’s just too little information out there,’ Dr Berman said.

’18 per cent said there was no sensitivity to reported abuse from the Queensland Police,16 per cent believed it wouldn’t be dealt with fairly, 12 per cent had bad experiences with the police and 7 per cent feared homophobia from the institution,’

While the Queensland Police Service posted LGBT liaisons throughout the state, Dr Berman said there was not one out LGBT officer.

Dr Berman said he was staggered by the number of LGBT people who weren’t aware of anti-discrimination laws.

‘Only 52 per cent were aware of services available to the LGBT community … it’s very sobering,’ Dr Berman said.

‘Changes to the anti-discrimination laws would send a message to the community that it can and will be enforced.’

Focus groups and surveys were used in the study, yielding some significant anecdotes of prejudice.

‘A school teacher in a remote school was removed from the regional school after he complained about homophobic abuse,’ Dr Berman said.

‘He went to management and to his union before he was sent to the Queensland Department of Education psychologist. There he was allegedly told he was a round peg in a square hole, he was too artistic and he should consider opening up a coffee shop.’

In another case, an employee from the resources sector asked for an anti-discrimination information session.

‘He then found “Greg sucks cock” scribbled in the men’s toilets and was eventually forced out,’ Dr Berman said.

Education was another area for reform according to the study, with calls for greater education on sexual diversity information in schools.

‘There were no reporting mechanisms for teaching about sexual health; they can teach what they want, when they want,’ Dr Berman said.

He proposed that sexual diversity education should begin from as early as primary school.
‘So much is related to schools; they’re supposed to be teaching about inclusion and diversity,’ he said.

Dr Berman said that he recommended a holistic approach to the problem by including various Queensland State departments.

Dr Berman told the ABC that gay hate crimes were common Australia-wide and that uniform research into homophobic abuse across the nation was still needed.

Benn Dorrington

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