Homophobic violence in Queensland: the shocking reality

Homophobic violence in Queensland: the shocking reality

Groundbreaking research has revealed the shocking extent of homophobic violence in Queensland. Publishing the research in a book: “Speaking Out: Stopping Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse in Queensland”, the researchers, Drs Alan Berman and Shirleene Robinson, have uncovered that over a lifetime:

  • 73% of respondents had been subjected to homophobic verbal abuse
  • 41% had experienced threats of physical violence 
  • 26% had experienced written abuse, such as by email
  • 23% had experienced physical violence
  • 15% had experienced wilful damage to their car
  • 14% had experienced sexual assault without a weapon
  • 45% of male to female transgendered respondents had been sexually assaulted

Gay respondents were more likely to be the victim of violent physical attacks. Lesbian respondents were more likely to be the victims of sexual assaults.
In the last 2 years before the survey was carried out: 

  • 43% of respondents  had been subjected to verbal abuse
  • 25% had been spat at or subjected to harassment
  • 18% had been subject to threats of physical violence
  • 9% had been assaulted

The book reveals harrowing and frightening stories, as well as stories of courage. One respondent stated:
“Last June myself and my partner were physically attacked on the streets [ of Fortitude Valley] by one main offender while his six or seven friends cheered him on. I ended up in hospital with a dislocated shoulder.”
Another respondent stated:
“I was called a ‘dyke’ and was pushed to the ground, kicked in the side by one person and punched in the face by the other. I managed to overpower them and get away as they were intoxicated.”
A transgendered respondent from north Queensland described being:
“spat on twice by a bikie with a mouth full of rum and coke. The first time I confronted him with the security. Second time I called the police who had to pick me up from the rear of the pub for my own and their safety.”
Consistent with international research, the study showed that men were much more likely than women to perpetrate homophobic and transphobic violence.
The research was primarily undertaken by polling almost 1100 respondents, as well as running focus groups from the Gold Coast up to Cairns.
The research, funded by interest from solicitors’ trust accounts, made 36 recommendations for change, including:

  • abolishing the gay panic defence- where a defendant alleges that he assaulted or killed the victim as he thought that the victim was gay and was making sexual advances to him
  • enacting substantive hate crime legislation in the Criminal Code
  • ensure that school anti-bullying policies include reference to same sex attracted and transgendered youth
  • a full time LGBTIQ statewide police liaison officer
  • installing more CCTV cameras in known violence hotspots, such as Fortitude Valley
In her foreword, Justice McMurdo stated:
“The Robinson- Berman survey is the most comprehensive research into homophobic and transphobic  abuse, harassment and violence yet undertaken in any Australian jurisdiction”, and:
“This book should convince all Australians that abuse, harassment and violence motivated  by homophobia or transphobia remain a distasteful and unacceptable aspect of our society. We must do better.”

The book is published by Australian Academic Press, RRP $34.95.

Disclosure: I assisted the authors with legal aspects that arose from the research.

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