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Major Inquiry Launched Into Australian Gov't Homophobia


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Major Inquiry Launched Into Australian Gov't Homophobia

by Peter Hacker, 365Gay.com Sydney, Australia Bureau

March 31, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Sydney, Australia) Australia's Human Rights Commission is beginning a nine-month inquiry into homophobia and will examine federal, state and territorial laws that discriminated against gays, lesbians and transsexuals.

The inquiry will be co-chaired by the federal Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes, and its president, John von Doussa.

They will hold hearings across the country and are encouraging gays to come forward to tell their experiences.

The probe will include workplace harassment, bias in housing, and laws that discriminate against same-sex couples.

Innes and Doussa will deliver a final report on their findings to federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock before the end of the year.

But whether the government will act on the recommendations is doubtful.

The Commission has already criticized the government for passing legislation limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples and has called discriminatory the federal ban on gay couples adopting children, saying it was a potential breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Reports to the federal government on those issues have been ignored.

Any call for the legalization of same-sex marriage is almost certain to be discarded. Earlier in the week Ruddock said the government would enact legislation to prevent the Australian Capital Territory from passing a bill to allow civil unions for same-sex couples. (story)

On Friday a major study was released showing that homophobia is affecting the mental well-being of gays and lesbians in the country.

The study - the largest of its kind ever taken in Australia - shows that 90 percent of gays and lesbians are afraid to show affection in public for a partner. It also found that that more than 70 percent have experienced depression or other forms of mental illness brought on by anxiety over homophobia. As well, 60 percent said they have experienced verbal abuse.

The research was done by the Australian Research Center in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University.

©365Gay.com 2006

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