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Greens motion calling on Morrison government to acknowledge harm caused by discriminatory treatment of LGBT defence force members passed by Senate

Media Release
Janet Rice 13 Feb 2019

The Senate today passed a Greens motion calling on parliamentarians to acknowledge the personal and professional harm caused by discriminatory treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Australian Defence Force members.

“Until 1992, gay, lesbian and bisexual people were explicitly banned from serving in our defence forces,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson.

“While the ban was in place, hundreds of defence personnel were investigated and dismissed from their jobs because of their actual or perceived sexuality or gender identity. For many this had profound personal and professional impacts.”

“It wasn’t until 2010 that transgender people were able to openly serve.”

“Last year the Greens wrote to the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister urging the government to provide an apology and implement a redress scheme to those former ADF members who were dismissed from their jobs, but the Defence Minister declined.”

“The Senate passing this motion is an acknowledgement of the harm caused by discriminatory treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender defence force members, but there is still so much more to be done. The Greens will keep pushing for an apology and a redress scheme for those affected. “





I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move that the Senate –


1. Notes that:

a.      Until 24 November 1992 gay, lesbian and bisexual people were explicitly banned from serving in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

b.      Between 1953 and 1992 at least 489 men and 165 women in the ADF were investigated for being LGBT. Data provided to parliament in 1992 on discharges between 1987 to 1992 revealed 73 honourable discharges of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and 21 dishonourable discharges of LGB people across Army, Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.

c.       A recent report by ACU Associate Professor Noah Riseman indicates that LGBT personnel were subject to harrowing interviews that probed intimate personal details and surveillance of movements during and outside of service hours. These practices saw LGBT service members humiliated and intimidated, forcing many of them to resign their posts or be dishonourably discharged.

d.      Lifting the ban in 1992 ended the threat of dismissal for lesbians, gays and bisexuals, but it did not grant equal treatment to LGB service members. Many Defence members still kept their same-sex relationships a secret for fear of bullying or other persecution.

e.      Transgender people continued to be subject to policies until September 2010 that required them to discharge if they intended to affirm their gender.



2. Calls on all parliamentarians to:

a.       Acknowledge the personal and professional harm that these policies have caused

b.      Recognise that discriminatory dismissals on account of sexuality or gender identity — suspected or otherwise — continue to impact the mental health and wellbeing of some affected ex-service members.

c.       Celebrates the contribution of the LGBTQ people who bravely served in the ADF despite these discriminatory policies

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