Recommendations from the 2004 Agmc Conference

Article excerpt

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (GLBTIQ) people in Australian society face unique challenges and issues in their everyday lives, based purely on their inherent sexuality and identity, and the lack of legal and social equality. Members of the GLBTIQ community live as part of a minority group of Australians. Therefore GLBTIQ people who in addition come from culturally diverse backgrounds could be described as being people who live as a further minority within a minority group.

The barriers that many culturally and linguistically diverse GLBTIQ people face are significant. They are often shunned by their own families and communities; only then to discover that racism and intolerance is often as rampant within the gay and lesbian community as it is within the broader community. Unfortunately there are very few avenues of support and understanding for people living these experiences. However, in Australia over the past decade or so, a number of culturally based GLBTIQ groups have formed of their own accord. In Victoria alone there are now at least 20 groups representing over 34 cultures. These groups have traditionally formed to provide social support to GLBTIQ people living with the often unique issues of coming from a diverse cultural background. These groups provide an important ongoing support and developmental role within the gay and lesbian community.

This is the published recommendations from the "Living and Loving in Diversity" Conference held in October 2004. The recommendations arose from the papers presented and the plenary sessions of the Conference, particularly the Final Plenary facilitated by Shanton Chang, and therefore represent the collective experience of the Conference participants within the wider community. The recommendations were then compiled and prepared by Shanton Chang for distribution and publication on the AGHMC website, and have been prepared for this journal by Demetry Apostle.

As you will see, the recommendations are understandably generic in parts. Further explorations with established and emerging multicultural GLBTIQ communities and allies along with the wider communities, government bodies, and the GLBTIQ lobbies are needed to further explore the issues and concepts discussed below.

Recommendations - General

* There is a need for a more in depth understanding of identities within the GLBTIQ community. In particular, to understand the intersections between issues of race, culture, religion, class, disabilities, spirituality, age, sexualities and genders.

* There is a need for BOTH the GLBTIQ and Ethnic communities to address issues on internalised homophobia AND racism and the intersection therein.

* There is a need to challenge the association of particular cultures and religions with inherent homophobia.

Intersectional discrimination is not a new concept. It represents the international human rights system as enshrined by the United Nations and has a long tradition of recognising one form of discrimination over another. Although aspects of our identities, such as our gender, our ethnicity, our race, our sexuality, are indivisible, historically, the human rights system has formally recognised discrimination on the basis of only one factor, rather than a combination of several factors1.

For members of the GLBTIQ community, it means that the way they experience life in Australia is affected by their sexuality, and other factors including race, gender, class, ethnicity, ability, age, language, religious beliefs, and political beliefs. As each of these factors commonly leads to discrimination in our society, persons who identify as GLBTIQ may experience a different style of discrimination due to one or more of these aspects of their identity both within the GLBTIQ community and in "mainstream" communities.

Discrimination on any one of these grounds can violate a person's human rights, but very often it is a combination of these factors that contribute to a human rights violation2. …