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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Australian Defence Force rules out gay hate inquiry

By Andrew M Potts -

The ADF will not hold an inquiry into homophobia in the military despite calls for one by GLBT rights advocates and a former advisor to three Labor politicians.
A former ministerial advisor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has joined the Australian Coalition for Equality in calling for an inquiry after revealing he was harrassed by cadets from the Royal Military College at Duntroon.
“Homophobic cadets … in the mid-1990s, when I was working in Canberra during sitting weeks, were known to frequently harass gay men … in Civic and around the O’Connor area where there were gay bars and gay-friendly establishments,” the former advisor wrote in a letter to Defence Minister Stephen Smith, seen by the Star Observer.
“I can recall being with some friends in a restaurant in O’Connor. We left about 10pm and were walking to our car when I was told to run, which I did.
“We jumped into the safety of our car [but] it was attacked by five or six young men who screamed insults and abuse at us and began to shake and bang on the car. The attack lasted for some four or five minutes.
“I wanted to report the matter to the police and the staff college, but was told I would be wasting my time as nothing would be done by either the [Australian Federal Police] or the senior staff at Duntroon.”
The former advisor told the Star Observer he had reported the incident to a senator and a ministerial office at the time.
He said he was “extremely shaken and upset by the incident”.
“My Canberra-based friends told me such incidents were quite common and it was widely known that the perpetrators of these attacks were male cadets from Duntroon who took pride in their homophobia and saw such attacks on gay people as … a rite of passage.
“I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like [for] a gay or lesbian student at the college.
“I would ask the Minister to consider broadening his inquiries … to include the attitude and behaviour of the college, its officers and staff to its gay and lesbian students.”
When asked if Smith would launch an inquiry into homophobia in the ADF, a Defence spokesperson said that allegations would only be examined individually.
“A large number of cases of abuse have been brought to the attention of his office and the department,” the spokesperson said.
“These claims will be examined by an independent legal firm that will be engaged by the department’s secretary, Dr Ian Watt.”
In regards to the scandal surrounding a homophobic Facebook page created to out ADF personnel which had videos on it depicting the simulated murder of people in a gay night club, Defence said an investigation was ongoing with several interviews still to be conducted.
Investigators had uncovered that the name the page was created under was a pseudonym.
“Linkages back to the individual’s real identity can not be established as the Facebook site [was] deleted prior to this matter being reported to ADFIS. That said, Defence is currently pursuing additional avenues of enquiry in relation to this incident,” the spokesperson said.


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