Australia is well regarded for its acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTIQA+) people.
It is home to Sydney, with its three-week long Mardi Gras festival and history of LGBT rights activism. It is also one of top 30 countries most friendly to LGBTIQ+ people according to 2019 Spartacus Gay Travel Index which ranks the world’s most LGBTIQ+ friendly countries, examining close to 200 nations based on a set of criteria. 79% of Australians also agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society according to a 2013 Pew Research poll. Furthermore, marriage equality of LGBTIQ+ came into effect in 2017.
Yet the LGBTIQA+ community in Australia still experience stigma, prejudice, discrimination, harassment and hostility in public, at work and in school. These injustices permeate everyday life including accessing government services and obtaining proper recognition of their sex in official documents.
The Australian Human Rights Commission provided this pictorial snapshot of facts and figures from the LGBTIQ+ community back in 2014:
These facts paint today's picture:
11% of Australians or 2.7 million people are of diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
44% of LGBTIQ+ people hide their sexuality or gender identity in public and 33.6% when accessing services for fear of heterosexist violence or discrimination according to Private Lives 2 Report by Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society.
16% of LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 reported that they had attempted suicide compared to 3.2% of the general population according to the National LGBTI Health Alliance. Compared to the general population, LGBTI people are also more likely to have thoughts of suicide.
80% of homophobic bullying involving LGBTIQ+ young people occurs at school according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
20.8% of LGBTIQ+ people have experienced homelessness (vs 13.4% of heterosexual people). Family conflict and rejection because of sexual orientation or gender identity has been identified as a major cause of homelessness for LGBTIQ+ communities according to GALFA LGBTQ Homelessness Research Project
37.1% LGBT people aged 16 and over reported being diagnosed or treated for any mental disorder compared to 20% of the general population according to the National LGBTI Health Alliance.
Many Australians are on the side of equality for LGBTIQ people. 61.6% voted "YES" in the marriage equality postal vote. In addition, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 makes if unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status against the law.
Still LGBTIQA+ people in Australia struggle for the fundamental human right of equality and freedom from discrimination just because of how they identify themselves, how they dress and who they love. Australia needs to work hard at this if it wants to be seen as a progressive nation alongside Canada, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Sweden.
And it starts with me and you. I'm not LGBTIQA-phobic. Are you?
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