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8 APRIL 2010

Article from one of the gay papers:

‘Beyond a joke’

By Andie Noonan

Gay and lesbian youth have again been ignored by Australia’s peak depression organisation, beyondblue. The organisation’s new, 127-page draft guidelines for youth depression, Clinical Practice Guidelines on Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults, contains a single reference to GLBTI youth, under ‘Groups with low levels of help-seeking’.

Beyondblue board member and adolescent psychiatrist, associate professor Brett McDermott — who headed an expert panel to develop the guidelines — said the lack of inclusion was due to an absence of “high quality” research. “We’re very disappointed about this as well,” McDermott told Sydney Star Observer.

“The process was about trawling the scientific literature for very high quality studies, for randomised control trials, or trials of a similar degree of scientific rigour.

“We only found one [study] that specifically included that group … so we’ve tried to flag that, and we’ve tried to say there’s an urgent future research agenda, there are some very important groups … we need some research on.”

But according to beyondblue’s own fact sheet, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows homosexual and bisexual people have far higher levels of anxiety disorders than their heterosexual counterparts (31 percent compared with 14 percent); and more than triple the rate of depression and related disorders (19 percent compared with 6 percent).

Critics of the draft guidelines say beyondblue is falling well short of its committment to target depression in the GLBTI community after public assurances following its GLBT mental health roundtable last December.

Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria director Anne Mitchell told Sydney Star Observer it was “ridiculous” that research GLHV compiled specifically for beyondblue in December 2008 for their own literature review, Feeling queer and blue, was not taken into account.

“They have the data,” she said. “We put together the literature review for beyondblue with a fairly substantial amount of evidence, the best evidence available … even without randomised control trials, including that evidence would be good academic practice, I would have thought.”

Mitchell also hit out at the ethics of conducting randomised control trials with adolescents, saying it was not the sort of research she would want to put participants through.

“You don’t just get two random control samples of young people, then give some depression medication and watch to see how many people suicide.”

McDermott stressed the guidelines — which were withdrawn by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 2004 — were still in a draft format and said the information should be viewed as generalist.

He said beyondblue was pushing for a five-year review cycle and raised the potential for annual updates if more evidence is available.

info: The guidelines are open for public submissions until May 12. Visit

Article from one of the gay papers:

A depressing lack of care

By Doug Pollard

Organisations that claim to serve a ‘higher power’ are apt to see themselves as above the law. Any illegality or immorality is justified because their mission is too important to be impeded by the law, or jeopardised by the relatively unimportant ‘mistakes’ of a few members.

The Roman Catholic Church and Scientology have both been accused of fitting this model. When attacked, they first pretend the problem doesn’t exist, or is insignificant, then throw the blame onto others, and paint themselves as the true victims.

The latest Vatican effort is particularly disgusting: according to the Pope’s personal preacher, attacks on the church over paedophilia are reminiscent of the attacks on the Jews by the Nazis — something the Pope may be presumed to know a good deal about.

There are signs that the self-styled ‘national depression initiative’, beyondblue, may be in danger of falling into a similar trap.

The initial symptoms are all there. When criticised for failing to address the horrendous rates of depression, self-harm and suicide among same sex attracted youth, the organisation’s first reaction was denial.

Then under pressure, mainly from Rob Mitchell, beyondblue commissioned a review of the pre-existing research, which confirmed the problem.

The responsible reaction might have been to institute an internal enquiry into how this had been missed, and the immediate deployment of resources to tackle the problem. Instead beyondblue sat on the report and only published it after sustained pressure.

It took more pressure before they called a ‘round-table’ of GLBTI representatives, at which they promised to make GLBTI issues a priority.

Now, after another lengthy period of silence come the clinical guidelines on the treatment of depression, which — apart from a single sentence — ignore depression among the sex and gender diverse community.

The guidelines are important because they form “practice recommendations for health care professionals, consumers, carers, families and friends to support and assist adolescents and young adults, aged 13-24 years … with depression” — National Health & Medical Research Council.

beyondblue says that, of the more than 50,000 studies worldwide confirming suicide rates among same-sex attracted youth at five to six times that of their straight counterparts, only one meets their criteria. Doesn’t that indicate a problem with the criteria?

Not according to beyondblue. And so with a flutter of their pretty butterfly’s wings, a mountain of evidence conveniently disappears. Along with all those inconveniently dead depressed gay teenagers.

When challenged beyondblue — with millions of dollars from taxpayers and donations — suggests that the gay community should, at its own expense, find and present evidence that does meet the criteria. By May 12.

There isn’t a hope in hell of meeting their demands. And so teenagers will continue to die for want of proper guidelines for their treatment. And by beyondblue’s standards, it’ll be our fault, not theirs.

Can anyone spell ‘homophobia’?

11 APRIL 2010

Stars of the AFL come out in support of gays

Jimmy Bartel: Everyone deserves a sporting chance.
* Jimmy Bartel: Everyone deserves a sporting chance.
* Jude Bolton: Viva La Difference.
* Simon Madden: Together Everyone Achieves More.
* Ashley Hansen: If everyone looked the same, we'd get tired of looking at each other.
* Brett Jones: Why hate?
* Drew Petrie: Black, white, gay or straight, its about diversity mate!
* Ted Richards: Stand up against homophobia.
* Jason Blake: It's not who you are .. it's how you play the game.
* Rayden Tallis: We support diversity in sport.
* Steve Alessio: It does not matter who you are, but what you do!
* Daniel Jackson: Red-heads for equality!
* Aaron Sandilands: Everyone deserves a sporting chance.
* Paul Duffeld: You can't shake hands with clenched fists.
* Brad Fisher: Life. We're all in it together.
* Matthew Pavlich: Black, white, gay or straight, its about diversity mate!
* Brad Sewell: Freedom of choice.
* Paul Roos: It's Australians all let us rejoice.
* Wayne Campbell: All I can do is be me .. whoever that is - Bob Dylan
* Bomber Thompson: When the sun rises it rises for everyone.
* Brendon Gale: Strong Diverse Real Proud Connected
* David Parkin: Men are born equal but they are also born different.

Top footballers are to front a campaign against homophobia.

AFL football may have a reputation for blokiness, but dozens of top players and coaches have launched a campaign to promote tolerance of homosexuality.

The ''inclusion and diversity'' campaign boasts some of the biggest names in football, including Neil Balme, Joel Selwood and Brownlow medallists Jimmy Bartel and Adam Goodes.

Almost 30 players and coaches have signed up to the Players' Association project, to be launched officially next month.

The sportsmen and coaches have been photographed holding handwritten signs calling for acceptance and understanding of homosexuals.

Adelaide player Brett Burton is pictured with a placard that says: ''We all have our little differences - celebrate them!'' Geelong football manager Neil Balme's reads: ''Homophobic His-story!'' Bulldogs ruckman Will Minson wrote in ''Nil bastardum carborundum'', which is mock-Latin for ''don't let the bastards grind you down''.

Because of its profile, football has often seen itself in the vanguard of social change, spearheading anti-racism campaigns and promoting respect towards women.

But the game may have trouble convincing people to believe its new-found acceptance of homosexuals, given that not one player in the league is openly gay.

Channel Nine personality and Collingwood president Eddie McGuire recently told gay magazine DNA that he had shared a ''wink and a nod'' with gay AFL players.

And new research by Victoria University shows that gay men believe Australian rules is the most hostile football code, with many saying they feel too threatened to play the game.

''The fact that we have no out players is not the problem of the players, it is indicative of the somewhat hostile sporting landscape,'' said Rob Mitchell, a member of the state government's Sport Governance and Inclusion project, who helped Dr Pippa Grange, the Players' Association's general manager of culture and leadership, with the campaign.

The project comes less than a year after AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou declared that homophobia was unacceptable in football.

Mr Demetriou told The Sunday Age: ''Homophobia has no place in our game. The AFL altered our rules last year, to ensure that we stand against any discrimination on the basis of sexual identity or orientation.

''I congratulate the players who are leading the way in ensuring we continue to welcome each and every person to our game."

Dr Grange said no crisis had triggered the project - unlike the ''respect women'' campaign, which followed scandals involving players accused of degrading women, and a similar campaign against racism.

The Players' Association says footballers know how it feels to suffer negative stereotyping and want to help another group of maligned individuals.

Though not scheduled to be launched until closer to the International Day Against Homophobia Day, held annually on May 17, the project is already considered a success because so many players and coaches are involved.

An attempt at a similar campaign by English soccer authorities failed earlier this year because players would not take part.

Dr Grange said that every player approached signed up immediately. ''They were open and supportive of efforts to reduce hatred and invite inclusion,'' she said.

The project was designed so that there were no poster boys for the gay cause and the focus is dispersed widely within football.

Dr Grange said: ''Sexuality is an enormous part of our identity, is deeply personal and people should never be forced to make public statements about it.''

General statistics show that about 10 per cent of people may be homosexual - meaning mean up to 35 current players could be gay - but gay men may ''self select'', choosing not to play certain sports.

Mr Mitchell said the project would ''lower the overall perceived hostility to someone who is not straight [and] if you keep doing that, at some point, the players who aren't straight in the AFL will just go, 'Why would I bother hiding my sexual orientation, there's no need,' and so then they start turning up to the Brownlow with their boyfriend.''

He said the campaign might improve the standard of football because any gay player would feel supported by the AFL hierarchy and his teammates, and would be able to concentrate on his game and not have to put energy into maintaining a ''double life''.

The Victoria University research, based on a survey of 308 people and to be published next month, found the most common sports that gay men would like to play but did not, or felt they could not, were Australian rules football (45 per cent), rugby (17.5 per cent) and soccer (10 per cent).

Dr Caroline Symons, the main author of the Come Out to Play report, said that overall 46 per cent of gays surveyed who played mainstream sport were not out, with many saying they feared being judged and abused.


Hard-hitting performance breaks ice

April 11, 2010

THE locker room was an awkward place. ''What do you do? Where do you look? Everyone gets undressed and jumps in the shower. You're thinking: well, they know I'm gay, but what do I do?''

Last year, as a gay man on a straight team, Glen Cook was careful not to make other players uncomfortable. Now he is the captain of Melbourne's first gay rugby union team.

The Melbourne Chargers are coming out, with their season kicking off next weekend.

In June, they will travel to America to represent Melbourne in the gay rugby world cup.

The Chargers know they will face sceptics. At a practice match in Melton, Cook did not expect the opposition to know they were a gay team. But word spread. The sledging began. ''I think everyone had this opinion that 'Oh, they're a bunch of gays: they're going to get beaten up, they're going to break a nail','' Cook says. ''But when we came off the field, they were literally clapping and applauding. We got out there and proved ourselves. We're blokes who hit hard and play hard … we'll knock you over just like anyone else.'' Not all the opposition is from other clubs. When the Chargers joined the Footscray Rugby Union Club, some of the Footscray players were nervous about training with a gay team. But Footscray premier league flanker Jacob Davey said getting steamrolled by the Chargers was a good ice-breaker. ''That first session, they were smashing us, we were smashing them and that's always a bit of a laugh. That broke the ice. We're all just here to play rugby and enjoy the game.'' Being on a gay team, said Cook, meant that sexuality could become a non-issue.

If other clubs have a problem with them, he hopes they will leave tension on the field.

''After a game, they'll either have a drink with us or go home. If they want to go home, that's fine with us, we'll have a drink.'' Kopay: A first for football MARIS BECK April 11, 2010

IN 1975 David Kopay (pictured), a former running back for the San Francisco 49ers, was the first retired footballer to reveal his homosexuality. The second was Roy Simmons, a former offensive linesman for the Washington Redskins who came out in 1992. The most recent is Esera Tuaolo, who played for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1999 Superbowl and announced he was gay in 2002.

In his biography Tuaolo said: ''My success tormented me. The better I did, the more exposure I received. The more exposure, the greater the chance of someone discovering my secret.''

John Amaechi, a basketballer who came out after he retired, said: ''While the guy next to me could talk in graphic detail about the woman he had sex with last night, I couldn't even mention who I had been to the cinema with last night, because it was my partner.''

Accolades and abuse

April 11, 2010

DONAL Og Cusack is the only gay to have ''come out'' in either of Ireland's two favourite indigenous sports: Gaelic football and hurling. Cusack was one of the country's top athletes, a star goalie in hurling, a blistering field game best described as a hybrid of hockey, lacrosse and murder.

Cusack, a goalie for County Cork, became the most talked-about sportsman in Ireland when, last October, he announced in his memoir Come What May that he was gay.

Since then he has had accolades and abuse in equal measure.

Brian Sheehan, director of Ireland's Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said Cusack's announcement was a ''watershed'' moment.

Cusack said he did not wait until retirement to make the announcement because it would have had ''less of an impact''.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times recently, he denied that he had shown courage: ''Courage is being afraid of something and having the strength to take it on … I'm not afraid of it.''

Fashanu fate haunts

April 11, 2010

THE English Premier League shelved an anti-homophobia campaign in February after footballers refused to back it. The openly gay chairman of the league's anti-homophobia group, Peter Clayton, told The Independent newspaper: ''It would take a very courageous Premier League footballer to come out because fans are so vociferous in football in a way they aren't in any other sport.

''There are gay players in the top division in English football, and some of them are out to their clubs and teammates and nobody gives a jot.''

But English soccer is haunted by the memory of striker Justin Fashanu, who became the first Premier League player to come out in 1990. The bullying that followed destroyed him. He hanged himself eight years later, after being charged with sexually assaulting a teenager.

Since then, few other British sportsmen - and no other professional soccer players - have outed themselves. One who did is the feared former captain of the Welsh rugby team Gareth Thomas, who told the BBC: ''In many ways, [rugby] is barbaric, and I could never have come out without first establishing myself and earning respect as a player.''

The Ian Roberts method

April 11, 2010

IAN Roberts became the first player in the history of Australian rugby league to come out publicly and provided a template for any AFL player on how to do it successfully.

Roberts made his announcement in 1995, late in his football career and it was greeted mostly warmly by the league. Even the NSW Footy Show was positive.

But coming out also paid off financially for Roberts, who had worked out a strategy with his managers and financial advisers.

The meetings ensured that Roberts maximised commercial opportunities.

Roberts's agent, Leo Karis of K and K Management told The Courier Mail newspaper in 1997: ''We had done our research. We knew there were companies that wanted to reach the gay and lesbian community without being rejected by the heterosexual market at the same time.''

Contracts were in place up to two months before Roberts went public to ensure maximum exposure.

Roberts's personal popularity also soared.

A courageous move by Australian rules players

April 11, 2010 Footballers make a plea from left field.

FOR the outsider looking in, the Australian rules football scene can appear to be a noisy, boisterous boys' club - an unlikely site of progressive change. But social advances have been made on the nation's ovals nevertheless.

The popularity of players such as Barassi, Jesaulenko, Koutoufides and Silvagni (senior and junior) eloquently demonstrated the success of multicultural Australia. And the leadership of men such as Doug Nicholls, Nicky Winmar and Michael Long on and off the field helped advance the cause of Aboriginal Australians. These men also inspired the league to embrace the contribution of indigenous players as a means of promoting reconciliation.

Now AFL players are taking another step to encourage tolerance with a new campaign in which players talk about homosexuality and make a plea for inclusion and tolerance. This world-first campaign is also challenging community prejudices about the macho culture of the league itself. No AFL player has publicly come out as gay, although commonsense suggests that gay men have played football in the past and are doing so today (research by La Trobe University suggests up to 35 men in the league may be gay). These men have every right to keep silent, but the fact that they have done so says a great deal about the community's mixed feelings about homosexuality. Significantly, the campaign is player driven, and it may be that compassion for colleagues who are now leading a double life has been the motivator.

The campaign also implicitly acknowledges the importance of sport in this country. Australians passionately identify with sporting personalities. This means that Brownlow medallists such as Adam Goodes and Jimmy Bartel have a unique authority when it comes to challenging a long-standing prejudice. They are to be congratulated for using their influence in a positive fashion. The sexual mishaps and drunken exploits of footballers are familiar tabloid fodder. The campaign reminds us that not all players are the same.

In the political arena, Greens leader Bob Brown and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong are both openly gay. It may be a sign of the nation's maturity that in both cases their sexual orientation has been a non-issue.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's recent remarks about homosexuals (''I probably feel a bit threatened, as so many people do. It's a fact of life. I try to treat people as people and not put them in pigeonholes'') led him to be condemned in some quarters for setting a poor example. But his self-appraisal can also be seen as an admission of personal weakness. Mr Abbott is not condoning homophobia. He is acknowledging the uncomfortable truth that some prejudices are hard to eradicate.

The AFL players' campaign is a welcome attempt to change an aspect of our culture. Research into sports participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people shows that almost 46 per cent had not ''come out'' to anyone in their clubs and that 41.4 per cent reported experiencing verbal homophobia at some time during their sports involvement.

The research also shows that Victorian gay men believe that the AFL is the most hostile football sports environment in Australia. That belief is being challenged now.

We look forward to the day when the sexual orientation of an Australian rules football player does not have the potential to become a source of pain or fear. And we applaud the players who initiated the campaign for showing us that the members of the boys' club are more diverse than many give them credit for.

12 APRIL 2010

Article 12 April 2010 Young, gay and caught in a conspiracy of silence
DENISE RYAN April 9, 2010

IT'S not easy being gay in high school. Research shows most young people remain silent about their orientation until they have left. And if you have parents who might get upset, or hold homophobic views, you stay quiet at home too.

Until you leave home, or are forced to leave, because your parents can't or won't accept you.

Same-sex attracted young people — the term favoured by researchers at La Trobe University's Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society — still face more than their share of bullying, abuse and violence. They are more likely to be homeless, depressed, suicidal or substance abusers than other teenagers, according to the university's surveys of thousands of young Australians.

It might seem strange in these supposedly enlightened times to find homophobia persists, particularly in high school, but research shows that 60 per cent of same-sex attracted young people experience verbal or physical abuse and 74 per cent of this takes place in schools. For many gay people, the high school years are the hardest of their lives.

The research also confirms that about 10 per cent of young people experience feelings of sexual attraction towards people of the same sex, translating to three students in each class of 30.

This figure is consistent across countries that acknowledge sexual diversity, according to La Trobe University researcher Dr Lynne Hillier. Most young people realise they are gay around puberty but 30 per cent know earlier.

When The Age interviewed a group of young people who completed year 12 last year at a range of Melbourne schools, most knew a few people in their year who had come out, and they believed those students were mostly accepted by their peers.

But they had also noticed that teachers were slow to clamp down on homophobic comments and, in most cases, sex-education classes did not acknowledge same-sex relationships. Some had witnessed gay students being bullied, sometimes overtly but often in subtle ways such as through exclusion.

"The physical education teachers assumed there were no gays in the school when in fact our school had quite a few," says Lars Osland, who finished year 12 at an independent school last year.

Dr Hillier was disappointed to find when looking at the results of the Writing Themselves in Again national survey in 2004 that, while young people reported feeling safer at school than in the 1998 survey, the level of abuse had not diminished.

Forty-four per cent of the 1749 young people surveyed reported verbal abuse (which included threats and rumour-mongering) and 16 per cent reported physical assault, ranging from damaged possessions to rape and hospitalisation for injuries. These figures were unchanged since the first survey in 1998.

"This is despite a tremendous amount of professional work done in schools, particularly with the Talking Sexual Health resources rolled out in every state, and professional development done with up to 30 teachers at a time," she says. "We thought the violence would have dropped but it hadn't."

Dr Hillier is now seeking 2000 same-sex attracted young people to respond to the 2010 survey (go to So far 1800 have responded but more are needed by the end of the month.

Have schools become safer in the past six years? Dr Hillier can't be sure, but she does know that many teachers still avoid the topic of sexual diversity, despite a requirement under state government policy to tackle it.

"There is a lot of discretion and teachers are frightened to deal with the topic," she says.

Dr Hillier and other experts made it clear at a government roundtable in 2005 that nothing would change until teachers knew they were expected to make schools safe and that they would not be fired if a parent complained about the teacher broaching the subject.

The teacher resource Safe Schools are Effective Schools subsequently included strategies to counter homophobic bullying.

A new policy, Supporting Sexual Diversity in Schools, launched in August 2008, says that to comply with the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act schools must ensure students and staff do not experience homophobia or discrimination. Schools must have continuous, proactive strategies and staff members who turn a blind eye to discrimination, homophobic abuse or sexual harassment may be held liable for authorising or assisting discrimination.

DESPITE the potential for legal action, many state schools ignore these requirements. Independent schools, including those in the Catholic system, are not bound by these policies. Dr Hillier puts the delayed response down to homophobia being entrenched, with teachers concerned about a parent or community backlash.

But she urges teachers to overcome these concerns, read the policy and work to counter homophobia. "The research so clearly shows that young people who have been abused and/or have poor self-esteem relating to their sexuality are more likely to self harm, including cutting and attempted suicide. Suicide risk is at its greatest in the months before the young person discloses their sexual orientation," she says.

Teachers must receive professional development, says Dr Debbie Ollis, a researcher in sex education at Deakin University. Her doctoral research shows that teachers don't include sexual diversity in their sex education programs unless they have training and support.

More young people come out in high school now, but they do so hesitantly. Dr Hillier says they carefully case everyone around them and look for those they think it best to confide in.

"The response is so important as this is the one person they thought they could trust," Dr Hillier says. "One young man told a friend on the bus and by the time he got to school everyone was laughing at him."

Teachers should treat such disclosure as an honour and a responsibility. Dr Hillier advises letting the young person talk about where they are at, and then suggesting groups and websites. But approval is the most important thing.

Health and physical education teachers take sex education in most schools, and teacher trainers know that some male PE teachers are more interested in sport than in teaching sexuality, let alone in tackling topics they are uncomfortable with. In that sense gay people are unofficially invisible in high school.

"I say to these teachers, 'Regardless of what your values are, if they go against the well-being of young people you have got to leave them at the door.' "

Through her research Dr Hillier has come to know many young people who are too scared to tell their parents because they fear rejection. "Another difference between homophobic bullying and other bullying is that kids can't tell their parents because then they are outing themselves. So not only are they isolated from the school, the community, the church, they are isolated from their families and that's why the suicide rate is so high with these young people because they are just so often left with no one."

Seventy-five per cent of parents who were told were supportive, according to the surveys. "There are even parents who leave their religion because it's homophobic, but there are others who kick their kids out," Dr Hillier says. "These young people are more likely to become homeless."

She urges parents to question their values because there is a chance they will have a gay child. "I have seen the damage done to a non-heterosexual child when they hear their parents acting in homophobic ways. They feel it's against them. One kid said his father stormed out of the bank cursing poofters. He watched his parent behaving like this, and he is gay."

She knows many parents of gay teenagers who didn't know now feel huge regret that they did not protect their child.

Young people have always faced many pressures to deny their sexuality. Psychiatrists once deemed homosexuality a mental illness, she says, but this is no longer the case.

Religion remains a last bastion of resistance, Dr Hillier says, to what is regarded in legal and health terms as a normal part of human sexuality. In the surveys, young people who were Christians, attended Christian schools or belonged to Christian families often wrote of feeling anguish.

"In most cases they were forced to choose between their sexuality and their religion. In many cases the rejection of their sexuality and the embracing of their religion resulted in young people hating and harming themselves."

Parents also put pressure on their children by saying that they will miss out on grandchildren and the child will have a lonely life and miss out on having children.

"But there is no evidence that they will miss out. Another pressure comes from parents often being desperate to think it's not true, and that their child will grow out of it."

Dr Hillier counsels young people to give their parents time to get used to the idea. "The parent also has to wear the gossip. All of a sudden a parent will experience homophobia like their child experiences homophobia and a lot of parents will say to their kid 'don't tell anyone' because they are trying to protect the child and protect themselves."

Is this for the best? Dr Hillier doesn't think so. "It's hard for kids to be in the closet. They say, 'No one knows who I am, I am carrying this big secret. They all talk about their stuff and I can't talk about mine.' But it can be hard to be out. It depends on how strong kids are. If they have parental support it makes a huge difference."

15 APRIL 2010

Article 15 April 2010

The Age newspaper headline on 15 April 2010 reads “Cardinal tries to shift abuse blame to gays”, and the lead-in to the story is also different from that below, the online version.

The first paragraph in the print edition states:

“Gay rights groups have condemned the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, for claiming that the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis was linked to homosexuality and paedophilia and not celibacy among priests.”

There are other differences between the two versions and one needs to ask why??

Vatican distances itself from cardinal storm

April 15, 2010

Vatican in damage control

More trouble as Pope Benedict XVI makes first foreign trip since the priest sex abuse scandal erupted.

THE Vatican has distanced itself from remarks by a top prelate linking paedophilia to homosexuality, saying ''psychological or medical'' assertions are not in the remit of church officials. ''Church authorities do not deem it part of their responsibility to make general assertions of a specifically psychological or medical nature,'' the Vatican said in a statement yesterday. The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Photo: Reuters

The Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, had claimed that the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis was linked to homosexuality and paedophilia and not celibacy among priests.

Cardinal Bertone, who is considered Pope Benedict's number two, sparked the controversy on a visit to Chile.

''Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and paedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and paedophilia,'' Cardinal Bertone said. ''That is true. That is the problem.''

The cardinal also insisted that the church has never stymied investigation of priests accused of paedophilia.

The comments prompted widespread outrage.

''This is an unacceptable linkage and we condemn this,'' France's foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said yesterday. France was the first country to voice criticism over the remarks that have also outraged rights activists.

Homosexual associations in Italy reacted with anger and indignation. The president of the gay media service Gaynet said that if senior church officials ''feel constrained to dump the blame on homosexuals, it says a lot about the current state of desperation in the Vatican''.

Senator Juan Antonio Coloma, president of Chile's right-wing UDI party, told the La Nacion newspaper that the claims were generalisations that could not be sustained.

Gay rights advocates in Chile also waded in. ''Neither Bertone nor the Vatican has the moral authority to give lessons on sexuality,'' said Rolando Jimenez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile.

''This is a perverse strategy by the Vatican to shirk its own ethical and legal responsibility by making a spurious and disgusting connection.''

According to the Pope's press secretary, Father Federico Lombardi, the Pontiff may consider a private meeting with victims of clerical sexual abuse in Malta on his visit next weekend.

Newspapers in Chile reported that the most high-profile paedophiles uncovered in the Chilean church had attacked young girls. The archbishop of Santiago at the time was shown to have received multiple complaints about a priest, Father Jose Andres Aguirre, from the families of the girls.

The church moved Aguirre out of Chile twice and he was finally sentenced to 12 years in prison for abusing 10 teenage girls. One of the young women, identified by La Nacion only as Paula, said she had been abused between the ages of 16 and 20.

She said that when she told other priests at confession, they simply told her to pray but ''no one … helped me''.

She said one of the priests she confessed to about her sex with Aguirre was Bishop Francisco Jose Cox, who was facing allegations of paedophilia.

Cox had been bishop in La Serena, in northern Chile, for several years but was removed in 1997 and first transferred to Santiago, then Rome, then Colombia and finally Germany.

It is reported the Schoenstatt movement, a global lay community within the Catholic Church, paid for his transfers and ''treatment''.


18 APRIL 2010

The Age Article 18 April 2010:

Out and proud: Kowalski tired of living a lie


FORMER Olympian Daniel Kowalski has joined the small number of elite Australian sportsmen who have publicly announced that they are gay.

Kowalski, who has won four Olympic swimming medals, told The Sunday Age that he was ''tired of living a lie'' and that he wanted young gay people to know that others have had their experience.

The few elite male Australian athletes who have announced publicly that they are gay include the retired NSW rugby league player Ian Roberts and, more recently, Olympic gold-medal winning diver Matthew Mitcham.

Kowalski said he was inspired to make today's announcement after reading about the Welsh rugby player Garth Thomas, who announced last December that he was gay.

He was so moved by Thomas's story that he contacted the player. The resulting conversations left him feeling ''excited and relieved'' for Thomas, but he also felt ''anger because I was jealous … he was out and felt liberated and free.

''And it really got me thinking that I could do that (come out) if I wanted to. I felt really compelled to do it because it's very tough to live a closeted existence.''

A story in last week's Sunday Age about AFL players and coaches coming together to campaign against homophobia showed that there was community support and helped convince the swimmer to tell his story now.

Kowalski said he was not expecting more athletes to come out in the wake of his story. ''I just want them to realise that they are not alone, that the feelings that they have are probably quite common and that at the end of the day it's really OK. There will be hard times, but you surround yourself with great, supportive people who love you for you and you'll be OK.''

The former Olympian said that it wasn't until 2006, more than three years after his swimming career ended, that he told family and close friends that he wasn't straight.

He feels now that he had been in denial about his sexuality during his high-profile career. ''Things pop in my head that make me realise that I clearly suppressed these thoughts of being gay … because it was 'wrong', as a male it's 'wrong' but even more as an elite athlete.''

And this denial may have affected his competitive edge. ''I always knew that I lacked confidence when I stood up on the blocks and I do wonder sometimes if that lack of confidence was fear - fear of not really knowing who I am,'' he said.

''On the sporting side, I lost to some amazing champions, so I'm not for a second saying that this is the reason I didn't win. I often wonder if the lack of self-confidence and lack of identity in many ways held me back from reaching my potential.''

For his own future, Kowalski wants what most people want: ''I look for all the things straight people do. I want to fall in love and be happy and be proud of who I am.''

Article in the Sunday Age:

Jumping in the deep end

April 18, 2010 Illustration: Matt Davidson

Behind the Olympic glory, one of our swimming greats was drowning.

IT IS hard to know where to start. Considering my sexuality and grappling with it has consumed my thoughts for so long, I figured it would be easy to put pen to paper and write about it, though as I have found out, it is not easy at all.

Being a gay man with a foot half in and out of the closet is tough; the games it plays with your mind - and more importantly, your heart - are hard to put into words but I am going to try my best.

I finally accepted my sexuality at the end of 2006 following a huge anxiety attack at work. After what were literally years of torment, denial and very, very dark times, I couldn't live a lie to myself any more.

You often read that when people came out they had felt depressed or had suicidal tendencies. I, like them, experienced all of the extremes, but mostly it was the loneliness that was the hardest part of being gay - and still is.

The number of times I have sat on the couch or lain in bed bawling my eyes out, scared and fearful of the future, are too many to mention. I know that people, regardless of their sexuality, experience this feeling, but stupidly in my mind I honestly felt that there was nowhere to go.

I am not sure if being an elite athlete and the values you are supposed to live by compounded this, but it definitely didn't help the situation.

My family, close friends and, of late, my current work colleagues have been very supportive. These people, possibly already suspecting ''what team I batted for'', were always protective. Their protection became even more apparent in social situations where I would notice them deflect negative comments away from me once I had actually told them I was gay.

Regardless of this unconditional support, though, the feeling of isolation is still extremely difficult to deal with. Quite often you don't know where to turn or who to talk to and who to trust.

Growing up in sport and subsequently working in it has made the whole acceptance of who I am extremely difficult for many reasons, but most of all for feeling as though there was nobody there to help me through. I am aware there are phone numbers you can call for advice and support, but it was so hard because there seemed to be a lack of accessible role models who were also elite athletes.

I often think that if I had had people to look up to, to read about, who were elite athletes and were easily accessible - people who had lived some of my experiences as an athlete - then it would have helped the situation. It would have made it easier. But having lived it, I do understand why so few elite athletes have come out. In Australia, there have been Ian Roberts and more recently Matthew Mitcham.

Speculation, gossip, rumour and innuendo are common practice; we all do it, I know I have been guilty of it. Living the lie and deflecting the innuendo grows tiring. It is emotionally exhausting and it flat out hurts no matter how hard you try to block it out. I would be extremely well off if someone gave me 10 cents every time I heard the comment ''don't listen to it''. But, like the gossiping itself, it is almost impossible not to.

This year, more than I can remember in recent times, it seems as though there have been an influx of coming-out stories or gay points of conversation. For the people coming out it is no doubt a courageous step and I truly admire them and am inspired by their stories.

Being a gay man and wanting to talk about it is not just about being more comfortable with who I am but also a reflection of the world we live in. It is 2010 and while there is still a long way to go, there is no question the world is a little more accepting of homosexuality.

I recently read in The Sunday Age (''Stars of the AFL come out for gays'', 11/4) that the AFL, perceived as one of the last bastions of masculinity and homophobia, through its players association was taking a stance to stamp out homophobia by featuring some of its players in a series of campaigns.

This is a huge step and as a gay man something I am extremely appreciative of because at the end of the day this support, and in turn education, is what is needed.

As an elite athlete and career education adviser, day to day I work with athletes promoting balance in their lives and being true to themselves. I can't help but feel like a hypocrite when I haven't been doing it myself.

They inspire me to be a better person and I have worked so hard for their respect.

My only fear in writing this is I truly hope my relationships don't change and that they, like their AFL counterparts, can lead the way in helping to break down barriers.

It has been said, and will continue to be said, that even if you don't think you know a gay person, chances are you do.

Try to put yourself in that person's shoes. Imagine feeling as though you have nobody, being alone and feeling that you don't have anywhere to turn. You may not respect, understand or agree with their sexual orientation, but I hope you can find it in your heart to understand that they may, like so many people, feel a terrible loneliness.

Despite the dark, fearful and lonely times, being able to write this fills me with a sense of freedom, pride and relief. There truly is a genuine sense that everything will be OK.

I wrestled for a long, long time wondering whether being gay made me a bad person, but I can no longer fight who I am and that, simply put, is just me. Daniel Kowalski.

Melbourne-based Daniel Kowalski is a former elite swimmer who has won four Olympic medals for Australia. He now works as an athlete career education adviser.

Article in the Sunday Age:

Beyondblue 'incredibly neglectful' of gay youth

April 18, 2010

THE national depression initiative beyondblue has been called negligent for ignoring gay and lesbian young people in new guidelines to help doctors diagnose and treat depressed teenagers.

The agency's 127-page document includes just two sentences about gay adolescents, although their rates of self-harm and suicide are up to eight times higher than those of heterosexual teens.

Earlier this year, beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett told a meeting of gay and lesbian groups the organisation would do more to address concerns it had abandoned them.

In 2008, the organisation commissioned research that found that up to 31 per cent of gay people suffered from anxiety and depression compared with between 4 and 14 per cent of heterosexuals. It also found that 17 per cent of young lesbians had tried to harm or kill themselves, compared with just 2 per cent of young straight women.

But despite the seriousness of the findings, they are not included in the organisation's new treatment guidelines.

Lynne Hillier, from La Trobe University's Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, told The Sunday Age that failing to tackle the unique needs of a group at such high risk was ''incredibly neglectful''.

But beyondblue rejected the claim, with chief executive Leonie Young saying the document - the first national guidelines since 2004, to be used by doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists assessing patients aged 13 to 24 - focused on the best ways to treat depression, rather than risk factors for the illness.

However, it includes extensive information on risk factors such as sexual abuse, family conflict, trouble at school and socio-economic and ethnic background while making only passing reference to sexuality.

Ms Young said the guidelines were based on 57,000 studies from around the world and they had found little evidence to suggest gay and lesbian patients require different treatment for depression to heterosexuals.

Dr Hillier said one in five gay young people would experience homophobic bullying, and 16 per cent would be assaulted because of their sexuality. Of those who were victims of assault, 60 per cent had considered seriously harming themselves.

She said it was vital doctors were given guidance about the problems faced by young gay patients. If depressed young people were to seek advice, then ''if the therapist is basing his work on these guidelines, he's not even going to think that there could be an issue of sexuality there'', Dr Hillier said.

''Young people are not going to volunteer that information because they're living in a homophobic world which punishes them for being who they are.''

Anne Mitchell, director of Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and lead author of the literature review commissioned by beyondblue, believed the organisation would use the findings to inform their clinical guidelines.

''We took that as goodwill that they would now take this group seriously, but it seems like it was a bit of window dressing,'' Associate Professor Mitchell said.

She added that depression was often preventable in young gay people if they were given appropriate support. But if doctors lacked knowledge on the possible causes - such as homophobia or fear of coming out - it could be hard to detect. ''[Coming out is] something that young people are … incredibly anxious about and if a person in authority, like a healthcare practitioner, names it and destigmatises it a bit, it can make a massive contribution to a young person being able to go forward.

''We hear of suicides all the time and I just get incredibly frustrated to think that something that can be prevented is getting to this stage. [The guidelines are] a real lost opportunity to throw a lifeline to a lot of young people.''

For help or information visit, or call Suicide Helpline on 1300 651 251, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. (Editor's note: Beyondblue will NOT help gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS members of the community) Letters 18 April 2010

Still not speaking out

THE AFL's anti-homophobia campaign is admirable, as are the players, coaches and officials involved, and yet the form it is taking has an ominous, if unintentional, symbology to it.

Men, presumably straight, standing silent, holding up statements against homophobia? Surely this still has a sense of gays in professional sport being unable to actually talk out; that, at best, their beliefs and sexual choices can only be words on paper?

Unfortunately, until the AFL fosters a real culture where a player feels comfortable coming out and is able to continue playing at a professional level, any gay football player will remain trapped in the silence, as will other gay men and women who might be encouraged otherwise if their sporting heroes were free to be who they really are.

PAUL BUGEJA, Caulfield North

You must be joking

WHY [did] The Sunday Age ( 11/4) decide that the news about murder, suicide and the support of gays was so important as to be placed on the front page, but the news about the terrible plane accident in Russia where the president of Poland and a dozen top government officials perished was mentioned on page nine?

Hundreds of thousands of Australians of Polish origin are grossly offended.


25 APRIL 2010

Article in the Sunday Age:

Walking the bent line in a world with straight edges

April 25, 2010

It takes strength and patience to live outside the heterosexual norm.

LAST week on this page, former Olympic swimmer Daniel Kowalski came out. I placed his story on the page, organised the headline and dinkus and illustration, and joined in the general office chit-chat about his bravery in making a stand. But it probably meant more to me than it did to my workmates because I'm a lesbian, the only one in the Sunday Age stable, as far as I know.

I'm loudly, comfortably, cheerfully out at work and this office is full of warm, open-minded, intelligent people. You couldn't find a better bunch. But still, occasionally, I'm shocked breathless by the assumptions people make. These assumptions are part of a bigger societal picture that leads to what Kowalski described as ''the loneliness … of being gay'', not knowing ''where to turn or who to talk to and who to trust''.

Being gay or lesbian is lonely because the besser bricks of this world are all arranged in straight lines. A stranger at a party will mostly ask men if they've got a girlfriend, women a boyfriend.

Straight people get married and have joint superannuation and take couples packages to remote islands on their holidays. They assume it's easy for everyone else to do that too. It doesn't occur to them that I don't walk through certain parts of Melbourne or any country town (except Daylesford) holding hands with a girl. I could, but I'd be inviting plastic surgery.

Look around you: the images of heterosexuality are everywhere, in every book, billboard and magazine (in this paper, also).

Look in stores, and girls' clothes are still mostly pink, boys' clothes mostly blue; girls' toys mostly dolls or fairies or butterflies, boys' mostly trucks or robots or soldiers. Barbie grows up to marry Ken; she goes shopping, he goes to the pub.

No wonder gay and lesbian teens get so damn depressed. They're bombarded with images of what they should be, what they should want, and those dreams simply don't fit.

Adolescence is already emotional enough without piling on to kids' shoulders the weight of the world's opinion about what is normal. The norm is like a bloody great big banner draped across the sky and it takes effort and courage to ignore it, to believe it's OK to be something else. That's why beyondblue's neglect of gay youth is so outrageous. They're ignoring one of the most vulnerable sectors of society.

While the assumptions that society is built on aren't necessarily judgments, it's damn hard not to feel judged when the world assumes you are a certain way. And it's exhausting having to challenge these assumptions all the time, trying to decide whether to come out to every new person you meet or to let it slide, trying to decide whether to hide who you are (by omission or obfuscation) or to make a point that you are different. Again.

I'm 44. I've worked in newspapers for 20 years, and it's tragic that I worried about writing this article because my parents and my parents' friends might see it and I'm not sure how they'll feel. It's pathetic that recently, for the first time in my life, a hotel manager matter-of-factly asked me and my friend if we wanted a double or a twin room, no judgment, no assumptions, no sleazy asides, and I actually felt grateful that he didn't make a fuss.

Most straight people have no idea how hard it is to have to rely on the kindness of strangers; they assume the world will accept them because they have the blithe self-confidence of someone who grew up knowing they belonged.

More and more young gays and lesbians are having that experience these days, but the majority won't. More and more parents may accept their child is gay, but I bet they wouldn't tick ''gay'' as the sexual orientation of choice on the Dreams You Have For Your Child questionnaire.

There's no doubt gay and lesbian youth have more role models these days than I did as a teenager in the '70s. I remember looking up ''lesbian'' in the school library aged 14 and finding a big fat nothing. Under ''homosexual'', there was a single reference to Michelangelo.

So, I'm glad Kowalski came out. It will make the journey just that little bit easier for the next generation. It's just a pity they have to make the journey in the first place.

Louise Radcliffe-Smith is a Sunday Age subeditor article 25 April 2010
Coming out is 'in' at school NATALIE CRAIG April 25, 2010 Melbourne High School's gay/straight alliance group SOFA, on - yes, a sofa - outside the school building. Melbourne High School's gay/straight alliance group SOFA, on - yes, a sofa - outside the school building. Photo: Craig Sillitoe ''COMING out'' at high school can be traumatic.

But for the guys at Melbourne High it's like, whatever.

Not only is it OK to be gay or bisexual at the school, there's a club you can join - SOFA, or Same-sex-attracted, Other, Friends of Alliance.

It's one of about six ''gay-straight alliances'' in Melbourne schools that have formed recently to support same-sex-attracted students.

SOFA is open to all students, regardless of their sexuality, and has 15 members, from years 9 to 12. It has movie nights and outings, and meets weekly in a classroom to chat about … well, stuff.

Who's dumped who, who's going out with who, and who's come out to who.

They're a motley bunch - some jocks, some ''drama-heads'', some squares. Some prefer either guys or girls, some like both, but all agree that the best thing about the group is it's a safe place to chat without being labelled.

Founder Dylan ''Izzi'' Williams starts the ball rolling at a recent meeting. ''OK, so, Jordan and I went to see Lady Gaga,'' he says, flicking his punky side-swept hair out of his eyes and casting a look of mock seriousness around the circle. ''Best night of our lives. Try topping that.''

The well-built boy with the more sensible haircut sitting next to him pipes up. ''I recently came out to my older brother, his girlfriend and all my cousins.''

''Yo!'' says one boy, as the others applaud.

''Except, it was a bit weird,'' he continues, his voice quavering. ''Like, they reacted. As good as it felt at the time, now it doesn't feel so great because I think about my parents and how I'm going to tell them, and I can't protect myself by pretending they already know. So … life's gotten harder.''

Coming out, the boys agree, isn't easy, but they have each other to talk to. And most of their peers accept who they are.

Izzi says there will always be a degree of chauvinism and homophobia in an all-boys school.

But the existence of SOFA, and the school's unwavering support, has made being gay a non-issue.

When Izzi and Jordan called the group's first meeting at assembly two years ago, the audience was dumbstruck.

''There was no heckling or snickering,'' says welfare co-ordinator Jenny Mill. ''I think the boys were shocked into silence, not because of the gay thing but because of how brave they were.''

Posters advertising group meetings were torn down in the first few weeks and the jocks started using ''SOFA'' as a derogatory byword for ''gay''.

Two years later, most boys couldn't care less. ''I asked in class today if anyone knew when the SOFA meeting was,'' said group member Harry. ''It's just like asking when footy training is on.''

Other schools are not as tolerant. Izzi spent three years at a public, co-ed high school in the bayside area before moving to the selective Melbourne High. ''I had people threatening to stab me … verbal abuse in the bathrooms,'' he said.

Homophobia is still entrenched in school cultures, experts say. ''We've had teachers who say, 'There's no bloody poofs in my rugby team','' says Rachael Ward, of the Rainbow Network, for people working with same-sex-attracted youth.

She says an increase in homophobic bullying has been blamed on more students coming out in high school. But it is no excuse for complacency.

''Young people are coming out earlier and it's more on the agenda, but we need mandated support at all schools, not just the progressive, inner-city ones.''

Northcote High School and Princes Hill Secondary College, in Melbourne's inner-north, are two such ''progressive'' schools with gay-straight alliances.

But the concept is spreading. The private Methodist Ladies College in Kew has a gay-straight alliance and Sacred Heart College in Kyneton has a ''Celebrating Diversity'' group that includes same-sex-attracted students.

''While there are challenges within the official teachings of the [Catholic] Church, as a Mercy College, we agree that all students should be safe and that Christ's message of salvation is for all,'' says acting principal Brian Reed.

Other schools support students covertly. ''If you write about the group … other students are going to try and find out who's in it,'' said one principal.

For many of the SOFA boys, worrying about people ''finding out'' is no longer a concern, and discussion flows from Gaga to gender stereotypes - a topic that prompts the group to try on their best ''man voices''.

''What do I say?'' whines Izzi.

''Say I'm a big gay diva!'' says Jordan. Izzi raises an eyebrow saucily. Then, dropping his voice to a bass grunt, ''My name's Bruce. I like football.''

Chuckles all around.

Closet open, with plan to target bullies who wait
NATALIE CRAIG April 25, 2010

YOUNG Australians feel more confident than ever about ''coming out'' as gay or questioning their gender, new research suggests.

Early results of a national survey of 14- to 21-year-olds show that fewer than one in 20 have not told anyone about their sexuality, compared to one in five a decade ago.

In the survey of 3000, there were also 90 responses from transgender youth or those questioning their gender, compared to nine in the previous survey in 2004.

But La Trobe university researcher Lynne Hillier cautioned that while the first results showed that many felt safer disclosing their identity, homophobic bullying was still ''a huge problem''.

The survey's preliminary findings came as Community Services Minister Lisa Neville told The Sunday Age that she would act to stamp out homophobia towards young people.

She will launch a policy blueprint on Tuesday, Beyond Homophobia, that calls for same-sex and gender-questioning youth to be included in all youth policies and programs.

''We need to take action across a number of areas - schools, mental health services, alcohol and drugs.

''This is a road-map for change across the board.''

Ms Neville declined to comment on funding, but said youth workers and teachers would receive extra training.

Both the blueprint and the report on same-sex-attracted youth are by La Trobe's Australian Research Centre on Sex, Health and Society.

Young people still have a few more weeks to complete the online survey. The official findings will be released in October.

letters in the Sunday Age:

25 April 2010

Another medal-worthy performance

DEAR Daniel, congratulations. Yours was a fine ''jumping in'', a brave statement (''Jumping in the deep end'', 18/4). You deserve our praise, and you certainly get mine and that of my wife, Clar. You now have four more medals - probably more important than those from the Olympics. They are for your bravery, your self-worth, your honesty and our medal of love and best wishes for all your life.


We still have a long way to go

CONGRATULATIONS to Mr Kowalski for coming out. For those who don't consider this newsworthy, I would remind them that there are many individuals and organisations within our society who actively oppress gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex people. Only when bigotry does not exist will it no longer be necessary for men and women to formally come out. Additionally, when you talk to your children about sex, do you make it clear to them that it doesn't matter if they choose a same-sex or opposite-sex partner?


It shouldn't have to be that hard

IT WAS telling to read of the way beyondblue fails queer people experiencing depression (''Beyondblue 'incredibly neglectful' of gay youth'', 18/4) shortly after reading Daniel Kowalski's brave coming-out piece. A person shouldn't have to be brave just to survive being who they are, but his struggle with anxiety and fear over his sexuality is common with those of us in the queer community. Beyondblue, shame. Pick up your game. As it stands, you have let us all down.


Government's attitude beyond the pale

BEYONDBLUE'S negligence is just the tip of the iceberg. Homophobic abuse continues to contribute to poor health and well-being for same-sex-attracted young people, yet systemic supports are virtually non-existent. Government funding for supports for same-sex-attracted young people is minimal and unco-ordinated. There is only one support worker for same-sex-attracted young people for every 100,000 young Victorians.

The neglect of this extremely vulnerable group of young people is a disgrace. If the Victorian government is serious about its ''respect'' agenda, then something urgently needs to be done to support same-sex-attracted young people.

CATH SMITH, CEO, Victorian Council of Social Service

Time to actually listen

BEYONDBLUE chief executive Leonie Young rejects claims of neglect of gays in its guidelines for depression in young people, pointing out the guidelines are to be used by healthcare practitioners and focus on the best ways to treat depression rather than on risk factors. True, but part B of the guidelines does deal with risk factors and prevention for depression and anxiety, with sections on youth who are indigenous, homeless, refugees and in the criminal justice system, but not one mention of non-conforming sexuality or gender.

In 2008, beyondblue asked La Trobe University's Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society to compile a review of research on depression and self-harm among gay people published between 2000 and 2008. They say they ''commissioned research'', but most people would call the resulting document a review or a report. Now it is those academics that are calling Beyondblue's guidelines ''incredibly neglectful'' of gay youth. Time for beyondblue to stop stalling on sexuality and transgender and listen to the research.


23 JUNE 2010

Article in Sydney Star Observer:

Gay slurs led to suicide

By Andrew M Potts
Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Homphobobic taunts played a significant role in the suicide of a 14-year-old boy, a coronial inquest has found.

On July 25 2008 Kadina High School student Alex Wildman was found dead in the garage of his Lismore home. Two days earlier, months of harassment by other students culminated in Wildman being struck in the head while two other boys held his hair and a group of students looked on.

Just months earlier students had left homophobic messages on MySpace, calling him gay and a faggot.

“Why you go back out [sic] with that faggot … I hope he dies in a hole,” one message said.

Alex was also bullied at Sydney high schools before moving to the north coast in a bid to escape the homophobic taunts, the inquest heard.

Handing down his finding last week, Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson recommended the NSW Education Department ensure high schools with more than 500 students employ full-time counsellors and have dedicated email, phone, text or chat room options to report bullying.

He also recommended the introduction of legislation similar to South Australia giving schools jurisdiction over cyber-bullying and incidents between students outside school hours.

“Without excusing the bullying behaviour, it appears some of the bullying arose because of Alex’s relationships with girls and because of his failure to respond to physical violence,” MacPherson said.

“The problem … particularly as it applies to the modern phenomenon of cyber-bullying, is an issue for the whole school community.”

WayOut rural youth project coordinator Sue Hackney told Sydney Star Observer a recent survey of high school students from regional Victoria showed homophobia did not only affect same-sex attracted youth.

“Our survey shows that among people who identify as heterosexual, the experiences they have with homophobia are just as damaging,” Hackney said.

“Probably more so with the young men. If the young men are doing things the group culture believes is not consistent with the image they want to project, they’ll call each other a ‘faggot’ and they’ll use homophobic language as a way of monitoring behaviour.”

ACON community health director Craig Cooper said the homophobic bullying of heterosexuals needed to be taken seriously.

“Homophobic abuse, no matter who it’s directed at, is still a form of vilification and is therefore unacceptable,” he said.

“Helping young people understand the broader impact that homophobic abuse has is just as important as helping them understand the impact that such abuse has on GLBT individuals’ health and wellbeing.”

Anti-discrimination laws in NSW and Victoria protect people from abuse where a perpetrator has misassumed their sexuality, but no state protects people from being vilified as a sexuality the perpetrator knows they are not.

30 JUNE 2010

Gillard says no to gay marriage

Article in MCV:

By Nate Micó | 30 June 2010

In an interview with Austereo's Kyle and Jackie O this morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has revealed it is her belief and Labor policy, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that the policy was unlikely to change under her leadership.

"We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples," Gillard said in a response to a listener question about legalising gay marriage.

Gillard said it was also her personal view, and that she would do her best to be frank with the Australian public in her new role.

"I think when you're doing something as complicated as being prime minister, there are days when people are going to look at what you're doing and go, 'That's fantastic,' and there are going to be other days when they look at what you're doing and say, 'Why on earth did she do that?'," Gillard said.

The new Prime Minister wouldn't promise "smooth sailing" under her leadership, and indicated her main priorities at the current time were the controversial mining tax, action on climate change and education.

Gillard also told listeners she had no plans to outlaw red-head jokes.

"But expect to get a response when you do," she said.

12 AUGUST 2010


Police investigate Sydney gay bashing

Prominent gay rights activist among four men allegedly assaulted by lone attacker on Oxford St.
Sydney Morning Herald
POLICE INVESTIGATE SYDNEY GAY BASHING Sydney Morning Herald [New South Wales, Australia], News [website version]
by Paul Ribby, 14 August 2010
A prominent gay rights activist was among four men allegedly assaulted by a lone attacker on Oxford Street in central Sydney on Monday night, in what the activist believes was a homophobic hate crime.

Police have charged a 34-year-old male with assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation the attack on activist Simon Margan - the co-convenor of Community Action on Homophobia - and three other men.

The attack left Mr Margan bleeding on the ground with a severely fractured left eye-socket.Police will allege it was one of four separate assaults by the same man at different locations along the famous party strip.

Mr Margan was treated at St Vincent's Hospital along with another of the alleged victims who suffered bruising and swelling to his left eye.

"I was walking up Oxford Street toward Crown Street when a flying kick just missed my head," Mr Margan said.

"I thought he might have a knife, so I stepped back to call for help. When I turned away to call down the street he kicked me again - hitting me in the eye."

Mr Margan said the same man had made violent homophobic comments toward him a few days earlier as he put up posters promoting a gay rights rally taking place a Sydney Town Hall today.

"Every time I turned around he was there ranting about eradicating gays on Oxford St. It was more full-on than you usually get, so when I saw him on Monday night I was really scared he was going to do something extreme."

The 34-year-old make was denied bail to appear in Central local court on Monday, where police will allege that he was affected by alcohol. They also will present video footage from CCTV cameras on Oxford Street as evidence.

A police media spokesman said that there was "no indication that the men's sexuality was involved [as a motive] in the attack", but Mr Margan said he was in no doubt about his attacker's motive.

He said gay hate crimes were not uncommon on Oxford Street, but were only occasionally reported.

"People seem to think, 'I've been assaulted, I'll just get on with my life'," he said.

"We need people to call these attacks what they are - hate crimes. If people don't report them, then they're not setting an example for the next time it happens and the next time."

The Town Hall rally is part of a nation-wide action calling for marriage equality.

Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald [New South Wales, Australia], Weekend Edition - News (page 13) [print version]
by Paul Bibby, 14-15 August 2010

A gay rights activist was amongst four men assaulted on Oxford Street on Monday night, allegedly by a single attacker, in what the activist believes was a homophobic hate crime. Police have charged a 34-year-old man with assault occasioning actual bodily harm on activist Simon Margan - the co-founder of Community Action Against Homophobia - and three other men.

The attack left Mr Margan with a severely fractured eye-socket. He and another man were treated at St Vincent's hospital. "I was walking up Oxford Street towards Crown [Street] when a kick swooshed by my head," Mr Margan said. "When I turned away to call for help, the [attacker] kicked me again, hitting me in the eye." He said the man had made violent, homophobic comments to him days earlier as he put up posters promoting a gay rights rally planned for Sydney Town Hall today. "Every time I turned around he'd be there ranting about eradicating gays on Oxford Street. It was more full-on than usual, so when I saw him on Monday night it was pretty concerning."

The man was denied bail and is due in Central Local Court on Monday; police will allege he was affected by alcohol, Police said there was no indication sexuality was a motive but Mr Margan said: "We need people to call these attacks what they are - hate crimes."

28 AUGUST 2010


Some of the worst gay bashers over time have been those who are closet gays and who are so afraid of their sexuality that they do their best to denigrate others who have had the courage in a world of homo-hatred to openly declare their sexuality.

What is Akermanis' game??

You decide!

Article in The Age 280810

Gay focus 'puts lives at risk'

By By Samantha Lane
August 28, 2010

THE appetite for ''outing'' gay AFL players is putting lives of young Australians wrestling with their sexuality at risk, says an expert in the field who has advised the AFL Players' Association on the topic.

Rob Mitchell, instrumental in the AFLPA's anti-homophobia campaign earlier this year and a member of the state government's Sport Governance and Inclusion project, has called on the AFL to take a stronger lead but believes the league still ''buries its head in the sand'' on the issue.

Mitchell's comments follow reports in The Age this week that Jason Akermanis speculated about individual AFL players who might be gay at a corporate function in Mildura earlier this month.

Akermanis has since defended himself by saying he was merely responding to rumours about certain players that were raised during a question-answer segment. But Mitchell, who has met and spoken with senior AFL figures about how the league approaches homosexuality and homophobia, says that is no excuse. He is particularly incensed given he was involved in providing Akermanis with statistics about youth suicide and depression before the sacked Western Bulldog wrote his now-infamous ''Stay in the Closet'' newspaper column earlier this year. ''It's grossly irresponsible. Because the research tells us, and Jason Akermanis knows this research, that the people who are at highest risk of committing suicide are the people who are thinking of doing so to avoid disclosure of their sexual orientation - whether it's gay, bisexual or whatever. So for Jason Akermanis to be engaging in this sort of behaviour, I think he would seem to be intent on keeping funeral directors busy,'' Mitchell said.

While praising the ground-breaking work of the AFLPA, which signed up roughly 30 AFL players and coaches to front an ''inclusion and diversity'' campaign to mark the International Day Against Homophobia in May, Mitchell believes the AFL's approach to homosexuality generally leaves much to be desired.

A Victorian University research report published this year, ''Come Out to Play'', found Australian rules to be the most hostile and unwelcoming football code for homosexuals.

45 per cent of the 308 surveyed gay men said they would like to play AFL but did not, or felt they could not, because of the environment they perceived to be threatening. By comparison, 10 per cent of those surveyed regarded soccer as Australia's most hostile sporting environment for gay men.

"It escapes me, it eludes me completely, why the AFL is not going at this with hammer and tongs,'' Mitchell said. ''I go back to the Mal Brown and Dipper [race-related] comments. When they came out, the AFL was like a very finely tuned machine swung into action. There was no delay and they were completely on message. They said 'this is unacceptable'. We're not getting that with Jason Akermanis. In many ways it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

''At this point there are two things they've [the AFL] got to do. Firstly, they've got make it abundantly clear that they think what Jason Akermanis is doing is incredibly harmful … the second thing they've got to do is genuinely start doing some outward-facing work on kicking homophobia out of football. The problem is not with the players. The problem is with the administration. It's not up to speed.''

An AFL spokesman told The Age this week: "The AFL has made it very clear that everyone is treated equally and no-one should ever be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual preference or identity, and that stance has been enshrined in our rules outlawing vilification. That is a view that is shared by the wider football community."

AFL Players' Association president Brett Burton said it ''flabbergasts me'' that Akermanis would speculate publicly about who, in the AFL playing ranks, may or may not be gay.

''We've worked so hard as a playing group to send a message to the general community that we support differences in the community, whether it be differences in culture or whether it be sexual choice,'' he said.

''We're not trying to 'out' people. It's all about trying to make the environment and the community a place where people can feel comfortable if they choose to come out.

''It's about people feeling more comfortable because we know about the suicide rates in homosexual people and we know the struggles they face with having their sexual choice acknowledged, be it by family or by friends.''

HOMOPHOBIA PART 4b - Forum at UWS Bankstown
HOMOPHOBIA PART 4c - Homophobia and University Horrors
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5a - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 1
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5b - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 2
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5 - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 3
HOMOPHOBIA PART 5 - Same Sex Marriage Issues Part 4
HOMOPHOBIA PART 6a - GLTH Suicide Part 1
HOMOPHOBIA PART 6b - GLTH Suicide Part 2
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - PREFACE
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTRODUCTION
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 1 - AUSTRALIAN 1971-1980
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 2 - AUSTRALIAN 1981-1990
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 3 - AUSTRALIAN 1991-2000
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 4 - AUSTRALIAN 2001-2010
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - CHAPTER 5 - AUSTRALIAN 2011-2020
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part - 1 A to I
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part 2 - J to S
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - INTERNATIONAL - Part 3 - T to Z
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Hate Crimes - BIBLIOGRAPHY AND RECOMMENDED READING LIST




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