Dr Shirleene Robinson
Many LGBTIQ+ Australians are feeling exhausted and concerned. Proposed legislation that would introduce new forms of discrimination against LGBTIQ+ Australians under the guise of ‘religious freedom’ looms. The battle for equality has been long and it continues – but there is reason for hope.
New research in the Make Love Louder Report for the Absolut Love Letters Project, provides important data about the power of allies of the LGBTIQ+ community. Crucially, the Report finds that many can be engaged to play an increasingly active role.
The 2020 Make Love Louder Report which has just been released, drew responses from more than 1,000 LGBTIQ+ Australians and 904 heterosexual allies, friends and supporters. Project partner just.equal worked to draw responses from LGBTIQ+ participants. Their previous research, showed that more than 80% of LGBTIQ+ people reported feeling worse during the current religious discrimination debate than when marriage equality was won.
The 2020 Make Love Louder survey took the pulse of LGBTIQ+ participants and also asked allies to reflect on the way they supported their LGBTIQ+ friends and family members. The findings about the rates of discrimination and prejudice LGBTIQ+ Australians experience are concerning.
The Make Love Louder Report found that three out of four LGBTIQ+ Australians had personally experienced negativity or discrimination as a result of their sexuality, gender identity or intersex status. One in four LGBTIQ+ respondents stated they experienced negativity or discrimination on a daily basis.
For transgender and gender diverse Australians, four out of five respondents had personally experienced negativity or discrimination and two in five respondents saw or heard negativity or discrimination on a daily basis.
These are grim findings. However, there are supporters of the LGBTIQ+ community all across the country. The Report affirmed that these allies can be a powerful resource in the movement for equality and in challenging prejudice.
Ninety two per cent of LGBTIQ+ respondents to the survey that informed the Make Love Louder Report stated they felt it was extremely or very important that they hear and see allies, friends and supporters speaking up publicly against negativity and discrimination.
Yet the Report found 73 per cent of allies consider themselves to be ‘silent supporters’. Only one in four allies said they had asked LGBTIQ+ people in their circle how they would like to be supported. Now, more than ever, we need allies to have those conversations, to speak up and support their LGBTIQ+ family members and friends.
The Make Love Louder Report found that 94% of LGBTIQ+ people think public support their family and friends, in addition to our leaders in government, was extremely or very important. There is a real opportunity here to make a difference at a time when it is really needed.
Abby, a respondent to the survey, explains just how much positive and reassuring messages meant to her – building her feelings of self-worth. “When I came out, my best friend said it was fine and said I had nothing to worry about. That took away a lot of my shame and fear…feeling accepted by someone important to me.”
While the voices of prejudice can sometimes be the loudest in society, those views are held by a minority of Australians. It’s time for our LGBTIQ+ allies to know that they have a powerful role to play in the movement for a society where we can all be celebrated for being who we are.
The quest for equality is not one that should be waged only by LGBTIQ+ people but is a journey where we need our supporters to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us and show that love really is louder.