Georgie Stone is an Australian actress and transgender rights advocate. In primary school, a group of older boys called her names, bullying her for being transgender.
“It filled me with a lot of shame,” Georgie explains. “Even now I know there’s nothing to be ashamed of, it has still taken me a long time to realise that.”
Unfortunately Georgie’s experience is not uncommon. A study conducted by ANZ has found that almost 80 percent of Australia’s LGBTIQ+ community have experienced homophobic or transphobic hate speech in the last year.
This grim reality inspired ANZs #LoveSpeech campaign, which aims at highlighting the harmful impact of homophobic and transphobic language hurled against the LGBTIQ+ community.
ANZs research found that 74% of the Australian LGBTIQ+ community believe hurtful language directed at members of their community is a significant issue in Australia today. By contrast, only 41% percent of ‘straight’ Australians believe that hurtful homophobic or transphobic language towards the LGBTIQ+ community is a major issue.
The research conducted by ANZ also found that 51% of non-LGBTIQ+ Australians say the LGBTIQ+ community gets offended too easily.
Australian Footballer Moana Hope – one of the faces of the #LoveSpeech campaign – has recounted some of the abuse she’s received on and off the field. “I haven’t been to an AFL match because I get so anxious that people are going to hurl homophobic abuse at me,” she said.
“You might think that because you don’t know someone in the community your words won’t hurt, but they do hurt. My hopeis that people understand the impact hurtful language has on people like me.”
The experiences of Georgie Stone and Moana Hope serve as a reminder that Australia is in desperate need of more resources to change the way we speak to each other. Georgie explains: “I think there are some words I’ll never be comfortable with because of my experience with bullying.”
#LoveSpeech aims to educate Australian’s about the power of their words, offline and online. To help spread #LoveSpeech, ANZ created the Hurt Blocker – a Chrome extension that you can download onto your computer that transforms hurtful words online into fun-loving emojis.
The Hurt Blocker erases harmful language and helps create a safer place online.
ANZ has also created Your Guide to #LoveSpeech, a powerful resource for people to educate and inform themselves on appropriate language within the LGBTQ+ community.
The guide features explanations of why certain phrases are derogatory, and features famous Australians like Moana Hope and Georgie Stone discussing their experiences with homophobia.
ANZ Chief Finance Officer and ANZ Pride Executive Sponsor Michelle Jablko said: “Diversity, inclusion and respect is a part of who we are at ANZ. We hope this campaign helps people understand the impact of hurtful language, and promotes more #LoveSpeech online and offline so everyone can embrace their authentic selves.”
ANZ is the Principal Partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and have been a sponsor and participant since 2007.