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'Taken as seriously as racism'
This letter to the Melbourne Age was written by former Democrats Senator, Brian Greig, on 20.1.10
It’s hard to argue with retired General Peter Cosgrove that racism must be confronted and not used as an excuse to influence policy. I applaud his advocacy on this, but I am also struck by the hypocrisy of it.
As a former senator I pursued the issue of anti-gay prejudice in the Defense Forces. I was appalled by the failure of the ADF to extend counseling facilities, relocation expenses, spousal housing and even compensation death benefits to same-sex partners of ADF personnel killed in combat. The military hid behind the excuse that this was “government policy.” Nobody in the top ranks stood up to homophobia or prevented it from influencing policy.
In one case, a complaint by a serving officer to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission resulted in HREOC making the finding that elements of ADF discrimination against same-sex couples could be remedied by the ADF internally and did not require legislative change. On this basis I wrote to Cosgrove asking why he didn’t do this?
The General didn’t reply, but flicked my letter to then Defense Minister Robert Hill who merely repeated his government’s anti-gay policy.
Cosgrove maintained his silence over homophobic discrimination in the ADF and failed to take action when given the chance. This is not to single out Cosgrove. He is not alone among influential people who fail to confront anti-gay prejudice. Rather, it is to make the point that as a nation we cannot claim to be fair and equitable until homophobia is taken as seriously as racism.
(Former Democrats’ Senator)
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The General didn’t reply, but flicked my letter to then Defense Minister Robert Hill who merely repeated his government’s anti-gay policy