Last week a “star” on the television show The Shire and two other men were arrested after allegedly assaulting a gay man and abusing police.

He was charged with a string of offenses – however vilification was not one of them. Our community has a right to be free from discriminatory hate speech. Anti-vilification legislation, introduced in NSW in 1993, means that right is protected by the law.

While characters like this remain on our television screens, this behaviour is normalised and becomes accepted. As consumers we all have the power to protest programs that condone homophobic behaviour by writing to networks, production houses or consumer boards.

This incident is an extreme form of vilification towards a gay person, and a person’s actions do not need to be this violent to constitute vilification. As a group, the gay and lesbian community does not need to be afraid to enforce our rights under existing anti-discrimination legislation.

As a minority group, we can be subjected to vilification unique to our community. Even if targeted abuse does not take a violent form, it is still at minimum unnerving to be abused simply for being who you are – and it is completely unacceptable.

This week the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby launches our first Human Rights Education workshop which aim to educate our community on our rights, and how to enforce them. Our workshops will be placing an emphasis on vulnerable groups within the gay and lesbian community, and over the next few months we will be running workshops that focus on young people, women and ageing.

If you want more information about what constitutes discrimination, or how you can seek redress if you believe you have been subjected to homophobic vilification, there are resources available on our website. If you cannot find what you’re looking for please don’t hesitate to email us and we will find the answer. You can also speak to the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer at your local police command.

The gay and lesbian community has rights, and as citizens we have every right to enforce them. If you would like more information on your rights or on our upcoming workshops, please visit our website at glrl.org.au, or email us at [email protected]

By LAINIE ARNOLD, NSW GLRL

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