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Study Tracks Australian Homophobia

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Study Tracks Australian Homophobia

by Peter Hacker 365Gay.com Sydney, Australia Bureau

Posted: July 26, 2005 9:00 pm ET

(Sydney, Australia) A new study on the extent of homophobia in Australia shows that despite the country's reputation for welcoming gays there remain many areas where anti-gay sentiment is strong.

The study, released by the Australia Institute, is the biggest survey of public attitudes towards gays and lesbians ever undertaken in the country.

Called, Mapping Homophobia in Australia, it questioned 24,718 people aged 14 and over and was carried out by Roy Morgan Research for the AI.

It found that Queensland and Tasmania were the most homophobic states, with the Northern Territory coming close behind.

The most gay accepting state is Victoria.

The researchers found even cosmopolitan Sydney was rife with homophobia. While the inner-city with its large gay community was mostly tolerant of gays and same-sex relationships, the city's southern suburbs were distinctly homophobic.

The study also determined that despite the views of the Roman Catholic Church on homosexuality and same-sex relationships Catholics were among the least homophobic people in Australia.

Two-thirds of Baptists and evangelical Christians believe homosexuality to be immoral.

The study was released as LGBT civil rights groups called for a public apology over statements made on national television by a prominent Muslim cleric. Sheik Khalid Yasin said that "the punishment for homosexuality is death".

The remarks were aired on the Nine Network's 60 Minutes program.

Australian gay rights activist, Rodney Croome, has called for legal action against the Sheik and for community education to combat homophobia.

"If Sheik Yasin's hate goes unchecked, it's only a matter of time before a hot-head is incited to violence,", Croome said.

"Moderate Islamic leaders have a responsibility to speak out in support of social and sexual pluralism, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations have a responsibility to engage Muslim communities in a dialogue about our human rights."

Late Tuesday Islamic leaders said that Yasin, who came to Australia from the US to teach, was no longer welcome and called on the government to remove him from the country.

©365Gay.com 2005

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