ALLEGATIONS made at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption about homophobia within Australia’s largest trade union have prompted reports of closeted members allegedly working at all levels of the organisation.

Former Queensland branch organiser of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association Rosa Perry yesterday told the ongoing Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption that gay SDA members were rejected as potential shop stewards based on their sexual orientation.

The Star Observer understands that while the demographic of the SDA’s membership is largely representative of the generally gay-friendly retail industry, gay SDA members right up to senior levels of the union have remained closeted due to a homophobic culture in the organisation.

SDA national secretary Joe de Bruyn has long been known for his opposition to marriage equality, defending Julia Gillard for her position against it while she was Prime Minister and criticising Kevin Rudd for his change of heart to support it.

The announcement of de Bruyn’s resignation made earlier this year prompted hope that the culture within the union would change.

There have been some signs that a shift in the union’s attitudes to LGBTI issues is taking place, with the SDA backing the preselection of openly-gay Labor candidate for the Victorian seat of Prahran Neil Pharaoh as part of a broad coalition with members on the left.


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