Many of you by now will have seen ACON’s new online initiative called -˜This Is Oz’. This fantastic awareness-raising campaign humanises the gay and lesbian community, and makes the phrase -˜gay and lesbian rights’ personal.
One of the primary ways our community can help change the attitudes of those in the broader Australian community who believe homophobia is still acceptable is to make it personal.
By that I don’t mean hurling insults at those who would insult us. But by letting people who hold prejudiced attitudes see the faces of our community, it’s a lot easier for myths to be dispelled and for homophobia to become unacceptable.
Legislative change goes a long way to changing attitudes. When our nation’s leaders say that our relationships are equal, this gives a signal to the general populace that homophobia is not okay. This is one of the reasons why it is important our community has access to the institution of marriage, and adoption.
But changing the laws will not eradicate homophobia entirely. Just as removing the ban on interracial marriage did not in and of itself eliminate racism, we will still have a lot of work to do once our leaders get around to telling the nation that we are indeed equal. The next steps will be up to us.
On the This Is Oz website, there are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of our community; there are politicians, celebrities, police, community leaders, an Olympian, expats, rural Australians, theatre casts, commissioners of the Australian Human Rights Commission, artists, social workers and even an ex-High Court judge. All of these people are carrying signs that call for an end to homophobia, demand equal rights, or celebrate the diversity of our community.
I urge you to send the link to thisisoz.com.au to as many friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances as you can. Upload a photo of yourself with your own message.
Letting the broader Australian community know who we are, and why we need equality and an end to homophobia, could not be more important.
Emily Gray is the co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.