Additional comments - Senator Brian Greig
Democrats’ Spokesperson for Law & Justice; Sexuality
Homophobia in the ADF
While supporting the thrust of the Chair’s report, my
particular interest in this inquiry (ADF personnel), is the ongoing
discrimination against lesbian and gay personnel, and its negative
Although the ban on gay and lesbian people serving in the
forces was removed in 1992, the then Labor Government’s promise to introduce
assimilation procedures and Equity/education programs on sexuality, was never
As a consequence, homophobic harassment, both overt and
covert, is a serious and ongoing issue without any adequate response and
resolution either by the Forces or the Government. Each seems to blame the
other for this failure.
During the time that passed for this inquiry, three gay
members of the ADF contacted me to say they were resigning from the forces
following long periods of psychological harassment over their sexuality from
colleagues. I can confirm that all three have since resigned. I am firmly of
the view that homophobia in the forces is a serious problem that contributes to
poor recruitment and retention rates of otherwise diligent and competent members.
I therefore find it difficult to accept the claim by Major
General Simon Willis, “that harassment of any kind is not tolerated.”
Without exception, every gay or lesbian ADF member I have
spoken to (about eight in total), said their working environment remained very
difficult for them, and that Equity programs were “utterly useless” at
acknowledging the problems of sexuality discrimination or even addressing it.
Gay and lesbian ADF members have told me that the Army has the
most acute problems with homophobia, and that the Air force and Navy, by
comparison, were often more accepting places. I was also informed that anti-gay
attitudes were more often than not the product of particular and specific
senior personnel, and that some sections of the Army were more accepting.
The evidence suggests the problems with homophobia lay as much
with individual Officers than with the system.
I believe the underlying causes of homophobia in the ADF must
be addressed with a comprehensive internal education program.
It is unacceptable that after almost a decade has passed since
the lifting of the ban, many gay and lesbian personnel still feel that the ADF
is hostile to them, and that leaving is the only alternative.
Reform must be complimented with unambiguous harassment
polices that deal with sexuality discrimination, and Equity Officers trained at
dealing with the issues. I suspect that not until this matter is given the
imprimatur of very senior members of the forces, will it be acknowledged and
I note the Committee’s comment (5.16), that advocates a
review of “spousal recognition”, noting that some other Commonwealth
Departments recognise same sex couple entitlements. However, this comment does
not appear as a Chair’s recommendation to Government in the final report. My
concern therefore, is that this side-issue reflection does not in any serious
way adequately address the issue or its immediacy.
Gay and lesbian personnel continue to
experience discrimination in relocation expenses, accommodation,
Superannuation, grief counselling and other related “relationship” matters with
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