Protests planned at ECU over former MP Barry House’s latest comments


Busselton Pride Alliance (BPA) has announced they will hold protest rallies across all three Edith Cowan University campuses during Orientation Week in July.

Organisers say ECU students and members of the LGBTIQ+ community across WA will gather to denounce the university’s recent decision to give an honorary doctorate to former MP Barry House.

They claim the former MP has a long history of homophobia and the university’s defence of this not acceptable.

Spokesperson for Busselton Pride Alliance, Clare Paine, said that in addition to ECU making a “wrong decision” with this award, House had now breached his agreement with the university and ECU must review the award once again.

“Following criticism of this award due to Mr House’s parliamentary record being at odds with ECU’s polices on equality an LGBTI inclusion, the university tried retrospectively to cover its tracks by claiming Mr House has given it ‘an assurance’ he will now uphold the university’s values.

“These values include ‘integrity, respect, rational inquiry and personal excellence.’”

“However, less than two days later Mr House breached this agreement with his extraordinary comments in the local paper,” Ms Paine said.

Last week, in response to the complaint lodged with ECU, House wrote in The Busselton Times that he was subject to “wild allegations” and that BPA was “targeting and vilifying people who don’t agree with them.”

In his letter the former politician said he would not make the comments he had made in the past today, but accused the LGBTQIA+ rights organisation as acting as a “judge and jury” who were silencing alternative opinions.

“Isn’t it strange that this small minority group , who preach love all around, seem to be the most nasty, intolerant, and vindictive people in our community?” House said in his letter to the local newspaper.

House said it was time for those offended by his past comments to “stop targeting and vilifying anyone who had a different outlook on life to them.”

BPA say they have written to House asking him to provide evidence of which of the historical comments attributed to him he classes as “wild allegations”.

“BPA has made no allegations, wild or otherwise. We simply exposed Mr House’s long history of anti-LGBTI rhetoric, his arguments against equality and his voting record of discrimination against LGBTI people,” Paine said.

“Mr House’s reaction to this has been to attack BPA, calling us ‘the most nasty, intolerant and vindictive group in the community.’”

Paine says the outburst from House was a clear breach of his “assurance” to ECU that he would uphold its values of integrity and respect.

“We have again written to the ECU Vice Chancellor, insisting this decision be reviewed a further time in light of Mr House’s failure to abide by his assurances to the university.”

Speaking to OUTinPerth, a spokesperson for ECU responded to Busselton Pride Alliance’s announcement.

“ECU strives to ensure people of all genders, ages, abilities, sexualities, faith and from different cultural backgrounds feel enabled and are supported,” the spokesperson said.

“In light of new concerns raised by members of the community, the University is making additional enquiries.”

Leigh Andrew Hill 

Declaration: OUTinPerth Co-editor and Co-owner Graeme Watson is an employee of Edith Cowan University. 

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