A leaked report shows the Department of Justice has sat on information relating to high levels of harassment in the GLBTI community for almost three years without taking action.
The revelation comes as a long-awaited state Government-funded project to combat homophobia in Victoria was announced by the ALSO Foundation.
The leaked report, With Respect: A strategy for reducing homophobic violence in Victoria, was submitted to the Government by the ministerial advisory committee on GLBTI issues in 2007 and includes a 15-point recommendation plan.
The recommendations include implementing a long-term community awareness campaign to combat homophobia.
“Legislation must be part of and supported by public education and awareness campaigns,” the report states.
“These should be more than one-off initiatives … these should include broad, government-led campaigns that send a strong unequivocal message to the whole community that harassment of GLBTI Victorians is unjust.”
The report contains 2005 research which shows 80 percent of more than 650 GLBTI respondents had experienced public insult, 70 percent had experienced verbal abuse, 20 percent had experienced explicit threats and 13 percent experienced physical assault.
According to the study, 75 percent said they had publicly concealed a same-sex relationship at some time to avoid discrimination.
Three years after the ministerial advisory committee submitted this information, the Government has finally provided funding for a stage-one research project to commence.
The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Transgender Victoria, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and the Anti-Violence Project have joined the ALSO Foundation to start the research project.
The group will establish anti-homophobia strategies and hand down a report to the Government early next year.
Outgoing ALSO Foundation chief executive officer Lyn Morgain said the project was an “exciting” opportunity to send a powerful message to the community that homophobic harassment will not be tolerated.
Rights activists, however, are frustrated it has taken the Government so long to act.
Transgender Victoria spokeswoman Sally Goldner said she was frustrated by the past lack of political willingness to act on violence and discrimination against the GLBTI community.
“It’s a long journey beginning with a small step,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Rob Hulls refused to comment on why the Government had taken so long to act on the report.
“The Victorian Government is committed to stamping out homophobic violence and this funding is part of our ongoing response to this issue,” the spokeswoman told Southern Star.