The founder of Black Rainbow, a support organisation for Indigenous members of the LGBTI community, has distanced himself from an accolade he received in light of recent comments made by boxer Anthony Mundine.
Two years ago Dameyon Bonson was given the annual Dr Yunupingu award for human rights, an award that forms part of the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards.
However, after a string of homophobic comments made by Mundine in recent weeks, Bonson has decided to hand his award back.
“The people that run the awards are pretty much standing by and not doing anything about it, so I’ve effectively handed back my award,” he said.
“It’s difficult for me to be associated with it while they still show support for Mundine through his award category.
“I can’t support someone so unapologetically homophobic.”
Mundine, who was recently on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, said that the death penalty might be a good deterrent for gay men.
“If we were to live in a society, just like Aboriginal culture, where homosexuality is forbidden and you do it and the consequences are capital punishment or death, you think you are going to do it?” he asked in a video by the Daily Telegraph.
“Or think twice about doing it?
“That’s the only way to deter the problem.”
He also added that paedophiles should face a similar punishment, and implied that gay rights could be linked to the possible legalisation of paedophilia.
Bonson says comments like these are what lead LGBTI people – both within and outside of the Indigenous community – to take their own lives.
“It affects people across the spectrum too, not just young people,” he said.
“I’m 44 and homophobia still affects us no matter how old you get, it wears you down.
“We can’t always rely on resilience when these things happen.”
When Bonson asked the organisers of the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards whether they would retract their Anthony Mundine courage award, he says they didn’t answer.
“They said they understood my frustrations and concerns, and said that Mundine’s comments were unacceptable,” he said.
“But they didn’t say anything about the award.
“We have to stop supporting individuals who are outwardly homophobic – you can’t be against homophobia but still provide a human rights award in someone like Mundine’s name.
“Indigenous people make up ten per cent of the population, but there’s no policy in place to support Indigenous LGBTI people.”
Convenor of the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards, Shaoquett Moselmane, was contacted for comment.