Australian Wallabies captain David Pocock, TV presenter Chrissie Swan and singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte are just some of community champions who have backed a national awareness campaign against homophobic harassment.

The No To Homophobia campaign was launched in Melbourne on Tuesday with the unveiling of its TV commercials and website.

The campaign focus is the website notohomophobia.com.au which will help inform people about harassment, find support and take action.

It has also incorporated social media, spreading the word via Facebook and Twitter.

Two TV commercials will be broadcast nationally throughout next year, portraying everyday situations of homophobic harassment.

No To Homophobia spokeswoman Anna Brown said everyone agreed there was no place for homophobia, biphobia or transphobia in Australia.

“We now know there is a direct link between harassment and anxiety disorders, depression, self-harm and suicide,” Brown said.

“If you see it and say nothing, you are giving perpetrators the green light to continue. “Research shows that when low-level harassment is left unchallenged it often escalates into more serious abuse and violence.”

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou also lent his support to the campaign, saying the league was committed to erasing homophobia from the sport at all levels.

“The No to Homophobia initiative is a vitally important campaign that has the full support of the AFL industry,” he said.

“A campaign of this nature promoting respect for each other, healthy relationships and a safe, inclusive environment is imperative if we are to affect positive cultural change.”

The campaign will also target regional areas.

Beechworth resident Helen Gollan told the Star Observer homophobia was still alive in regional areas.

“I believe its a good idea because harassment and homophobia are still very much alive, particularly in the rural and regional areas,” she said.

“It’s more subtly so in the cities.”

Beechworth is located in north-east Victoria, more than 250km from Melbourne. Gollan, who said she actively spoke out against harassment, believed internalised homophobia was the greatest issue at the moment.

She said some people stood behind excuses such as “I have a poof friend so I can’t be homophobic” which she dismissed.

“They don’t realise just in saying that, that’s part of internalised homophobia,” she said.

Gollan added it was also important to remember the progress achieved in LGBTI rights such as mass events like the Midsumma Festival.More than $600,000 was donated to the campaign in pro bono support from individuals, companies and media partners.

The ALSO Foundation was given $50,000 by the Victorian Health Department to create the campaign to target homophobic harassment.

It followed the release of the 2010 With Respect report commissioned by the state Justice Department.

INFO: www.notohomophobia.com.au

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