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AASW – STANDS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION OF THE LGBTIQ+ COMMUNITY



On International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), the Australian Association of Social Workers celebrates and stands with the Australian and international LGBTIQ+ community in their fight against discrimination.

AASW National President Vittorio Cintio said 17 May this year marks 31 years since the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.

“On this day, for more than three decades, we have raised awareness about the violence, discrimination and oppression faced by same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people.”

“While we have come a long way since that defining moment in 1990 we still have a long way to go. As a community we must continue to champion inclusivity, safeguard human rights and together strive to guarantee a better world for the LGBTIQ+ community.”

Mr Cintio said that social workers across Australia have supported state governments outlawing the harmful practice of LGBTIQ+ so-called ‘conversion therapy’ and commends Victoria for becoming the third Australian jurisdiction to do so in February this year.

“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ and related practices attempt to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity using psychological, spiritual or physical interventions. The AASW members now call on other the other states and territories to introduce similar bans.”

In 2018, a report by La Trobe University, the Human Rights Law Centre and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, highlighted that conversion therapy remains an issue across Australia’s religious communities.

“Conversion practices are proven to be harmful and ineffective, with the report highlighting the immense grief and trauma experienced by those subjected to the practices. It is high time for governments to take a strong stand against discrimination and against policies and practices that send the damaging message to LGBTIQ+ people, particularly young people, that they are not ‘normal’ and need to change,” he said.

Mr Cintio said that in the year that passed since IDAHOBIT 2020, COVID-19 has held a tight grip on daily lives of the Australian community, it has had a distinctive influence on the LGBTIQ+ community.

“While LGBTIQ+ people have struggled with the issues of social isolation, job loss and threats to health alongside the broader community, social workers have been drawn to the unique impact of COVID-19 felt by the LGBTIQ+ community.”

“A report by Equality Australia highlights the acute challenges faced by the LGBTIQ+ community during the pandemic. These include health disparities, which place LGBTIQ+ people at greater risk of detrimental health outcomes from contracting the virus; mental health disparities particularly evident in rates of depression and suicide; and historical and continuing experiences of discrimination, resulting in barriers to safe and inclusive support, services, information and healthcare.”

“Every day, social workers work towards protecting human rights and safeguarding social justice and we urge the broader Australian community to unite against homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia. With so much of the past year characterised by distance, social connection is important now more than ever”, Mr Cintio said.  

To interview Vittorio Cintio, please contact Noel McMahon on 0413 532 954.