Amplify Blog - Australia’s Profile on Pride
The below is a guest blog by Ben, past QFCC Youth Advocate
For many, the rainbow flag has become a symbol of hope. Of equality. Of pride.
It has now been almost five years since Australia said “yes” to marriage equality for same-sex couples. While this decision was a monumental achievement in ensuring equality for all Australians’, no matter their sexual or gender identity, reflecting on this historical event sparks a critical question.
What has Australia achieved since 2017, to preserve and advance LGBTQIA+ rights and equality?
To answer this critical question, we must examine Australia’s ‘Profile on Pride’.
At a surface level, I believe that Australia presents as a multicultural and inclusive nation – generally with progressive policies on LGBTQIA+ rights. As previously mentioned, marriage equality, accompanied by equal adoption rights (as of 2018), and increasing recognition of gender diversity, are examples of the positive steps Australia has taken to ensure safe and equal access for all.
For young people that identify as LGBTQIA+, steps such as the ones I’ve mentioned play a vital role in in promoting feelings of acceptance, diversity and most importantly, pride. In turn, these young people are likely to be more comfortable expressing themselves, their sexual orientation or gender identity, creating feelings of safety and inclusion.
Why is this so important?
In short, despite the positive steps towards diversity, equality and inclusion, young people who identify as LGBTQIA+ continue to face significant barriers to equality. Mental health issues, often stemming from bullying or violence pose the biggest risk to LGBTQIA+ young people in Australia. In 2021, 63.8% of LGBTQIA+ young people aged 14 to 21 years reported being diagnosed with a mental health condition. This may be caused by the fact that 44% of LGBTQIA+ young people had been verbally abused, with a further 16% physically abused.
These facts present an unacknowledged truth; that LGBTQIA+ rights remain a concerning issue in Australia.
The Path Forward
I believe that the marriage equality campaign was just the starting point. Australia’s identity as a diverse and inclusive nation is dependant on equal rights for all – especially LGBTQIA+ young people. Here are a few further steps that I think are important for Australia to consider.
Discrimination laws must be amended to further protect young people who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Young people deserve to feel safe, especially in schools. Legislation such as the Religious Discrimination Bill harms young people’s perception of belonging, meaning they’re more likely to feel unsafe and excluded from mainstream society. Read more here: https://www.yacvic.org.au/blog/religious-discrimination-bill-2019/
LGBTQIA+ young people are disproportionately affected by the education system. A lack of age-appropriate and inclusive sex education creates barriers to inclusion for diverse young people – for example, bullying and violence. Addressing stigmas created by a lack of a cohesive education system is critical to ensure a safe learning environment for LGBTQIA+ young people.
And last, but not least, don’t be afraid to have the conversation! It’s important to normalise LGBTQIA+ rights in mainstream society. This happens by having open, age-appropriate conversations with young people on gender diversity, sexual orientation, family and healthy relationships.
Steps like these help us to improve our ‘Profile on Pride’. More importantly, it helps foster safe and inclusive environments for young people.
Together, we can start the conversation and promote a sense of pride in who we are as individuals and as a nation.
Our ‘Profile on Pride’ depends on it.