The recent scandal of homophobia (and let’s acknowledge other anti-social behaviours too) in the Australian Defence Force again highlights how overdue the need is for federal equal opportunity (EO) laws protecting GLBTI people.

In most workplaces in Victoria these behaviors would receive a very quick rebuttal either via EO law or via OHS/bullying laws. Yet the response from the ADF seems to be “let’s have an inquiry”. A federal workplace is no different from a state workplace and there is a need for swift action.

I also reject the possible explanation the ADF is a different environment from most workplaces and would make the comparison to Victoria Police. Ten years ago, VicPol was incredibly macho in its attitudes. Thanks to change at all levels it increasingly realises it can be tough on crooks and respectful to employees and the public.

Surely the macho ADF can do something that parallels this approach?

The lack of EO law has the potential to affect provision of goods and services too, especially for our seniors. I recently became aware of the draft aged care standards that give no clear-cut mention of sexual orientation or gender identity. If this is because these attributes don’t exist or are unclear, it creates a potentially negative situation for GLBTI seniors in nursing homes.

Another situation exists where a same-sex attracted person has been told by Centrelink that they have a ‘disability’ due to their sexual orientation. While some avenues exist for appeal within Centrelink, again, prevention is better than cure.

Federal EO law would go further in preventing this 1970s style of nastiness.

The VGLRL and TGV are strongly committed to achieving comprehensive federal EO laws as one of our key goals. We will continue to work for it along with our other aims in achieving justice and equity for our community. If you want to help us, contact [email protected] or [email protected]

Have a safe long weekend everyone!

info: Sally Goldner is VGLRL Treasurer and  TransGender Victoria spokesperson.

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