Retired High Court justice Michael Kirby will be presenting his lecture ‘Why Sexuality is Good For Business’ for the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Business Network (GLBN) on April 30. He’ll address how business can benefit from promoting diversity, inclusiveness and providing support for sexual minorities within a company.
“There is a lot of evidence that inclusion and openness is good for all concerned,” Kirby told the Star Observer.
“It means that people do not have to watch their pronouns. They can be relaxed and comfortable in their skin. It also promotes true loyalty when an employee can be honest about his or her reality,
“As well, fellow employees who are straight are increasingly uncomfortable about discrimination towards their gay colleagues. Additionally, clients and customers do not like it and will sometimes retaliate against employers that do not practise equal opportunity.”
The talk is one of many that the retired judge and academic has given across dozens of universities since his retirement in 2009. Kirby is an honorary professor at 12 universities in Australia and overseas, and has recently been appointed to a new global commission on sustainable health, organised by UN AIDS.
Never one to shy away from providing opinion on issues affecting the LGBTI community, the ongoing debate over marriage equality is one that Kirby takes very seriously. He said he’s certain that Australia will legislate for it within his lifetime.
“It is not the most important thing in the world – poverty and climate change, for example. But it is important symbolically in Australia as an indication that we have grown up and do not give legal effect to medieval views preached by ignorant people,” he said.
As for being the first openly gay Australian High Court justice, Kirby is certain that, in the future, other openly gay judges will not be so remarkable, saying he hopes for a day when openness of sexuality is just normative. However, he said he currently fears that certain religious figures continue to promote persecution that fosters the need for some people in public office to hide their sexuality.
“There are also gay judges who are not open about their sexuality. This is an unfortunate consequence of the hostility and ignorance commonly spread by a few religious leaders.
“Sadly, too many Australian politicians bow the head to these ignorant individuals who need to take a course in the science of human and other mammalian sexual variations.”
In regards to recent setbacks for the LGBTI community in Queensland due to the actions of the Liberal National Party government, Kirby warned its leaders that the state will retain its perceived backwardness and civil liberty foot-dragging if minds don’t change.
“Queensland has never been a leader in this respect. It needs advocacy, example and familiarity with the life stories of gay people. They are human beings. They are citizens. They pay their taxes. They are fed up with unequal treatment in the law.”
Kirby will be appearing at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Tuesday, April 30.
Tickets are available here.