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LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENCES COMMITTEE
12/05/2000
Anti-Genocide Bill 1999

CHAIR —Welcome. The RSL has lodged a submission with the committee that we have called No. 10 on our list of submissions. Are there any amendments or alternations you want to make to that submission?

Mr Bowen —No.

CHAIR —I now invite you make a short opening statement in which you can speak to this submission and make some other comment if you care to do so. We are short on time so brevity would be appreciated, but I do not want to restrict what you may have to say. Please proceed.

Mr Bowen —Thank you. I wish to tender immediately an apology on behalf of the National President of the RSL, Major General Phillips. He is in Tasmania on RSL business and I request the committee's permission to appear at this hearing on behalf of the National RSL. I have held the appointment of Honorary Consultant to the National RSL on Public Affairs since 1998. In that capacity, I wrote the National RSL submission before the committee.

Addressing the terms of reference for the committee's inquiry and owing to time constraints affecting the preparation of a submission, the RSL chose to focus its submission on the Anti-Genocide Bill 1999 and, in particular, the proposed extension in that bill to the accepted meaning of genocide. The bill proposes to redefine the crime of genocide. Genocide is a grave crime and one that would be diminished in gravity if it were to be exploited for the purposes of a political agenda. However, that appears to be the purpose of this bill. To put this issue in perspective, it is necessary to look at what the bill is not seeking to do. The bill does not seek to include in the definition of genocide systematic extermination of a class of society, such as the mass exterminations of millions of middle-class Russians, Cambodians and Chinese by communist tyrants in the 20th century. If systematic extermination of millions of middle-class citizens can be ignored, it is necessary to look very closely at distinct groups of people that the bill deems to be in need of inclusion within its proposed redefinition of genocide, and they are `a group based on gender, sexuality, political affiliation or disability'.

A useful starting point is gender, which presumably equates to the technically correct word `sex' found in a number of United Nations covenants. Does the bill seriously ask the national parliament to apprehend as a realistic possibility that Australian men are likely to undertake genocide against Australian women or vice versa? The same questions can fairly be posed in relation to the other three groups. The slur on the goodwill and tolerance of Australians implicit in this proposal is likely to be viewed as insulting by many Australians.

It is impossible to ignore the very real appearance that gender, political affiliation and disability have been included to screen the real purpose of this bill which would give privileged status and rights to a group based on sexuality. In this context, sexuality appears to mean sexual preference, which is one of the normal dictionary definitions of the term. A compelling inference is that the Anti-Genocide Bill is a thinly disguised vehicle for promoting homosexual rights. Many Australians are likely to view this as diminishing the grave crime of genocide. Homosexuals as a group tend to be more affluent and hold higher status jobs than the average Australian. There is no objective evidence to justify inclusion of homosexuals within the protection of a genocide law that would provide them with privileged status and rights.

The bill appears to be concerned to advance to legal status and rights of homosexuals without regard to competing public policy issues such as the public health and child safety risks of homosexual behaviour. There is a large body of medical, psychological and sociological research and expert opinion which indicates that homosexual behaviour creates significant and disproportionately higher risks for public health and the safety of young people from sexual molestation. That research is referred to in the submission. The bill should compel close scrutiny of this research in the public interest. Extensive random surveys over the last 10 years in England, France, Norway and the United States have indicated that the incidence of homosexuality in any given Western society is likely to fall between one and two per cent. The research indicates that, in the areas of disease transmission, burden on public health services and sexual abuse of minors, homosexuals are heavily over-represented, having regard to their small number. In the face of a large body of evidence that homosexual behaviour and sexual practices raise these serious problems, the very low incidence of homosexuality does not permit an argument that it is normal and, consequently, that homosexuals need special protection for their behaviour and practices.

The purpose of drawing attention to that material in this submission is not to hurt the feelings of homosexuals but to inform the national parliament and the Australian public that there are important public policy issues raised by the proposal in the bill which cannot be ignored. The bill raises other important and highly controversial public policy issues. By extending the definition of genocide to protect a group based on sexuality—that is to say, sexual preference—homosexuals could argue for restrictions on public debate concerning their harmful behaviour on the ground that such debate was likely to cause serious mental harm to members of the group. Such arguments appear to have already been advanced in New South Wales for the purpose of restricting public debate on the dangers of homosexual behaviour. By protecting homosexuals from `measures intended to prevent births within the group', this provision could provide a foundation for lesbian access to IVF programs in those states and territories which presently forbid such access to homosexuals.

The public health and child safety risks of homosexual behaviour should not be ignored or protected from public debate by a bill of this kind. We submit that the public interest should require that the research material and other evidence included in this submission be thoroughly and impartially examined before a bill that could give privileged legal status and rights to homosexuals is debated in parliament. When the behaviour and practices of a very small section of the community pose a significant and disproportionately high risk to public health and child safety and a significant drain on scarce health services, that section should not receive privileged legal status and special rights under federal law. Granting such privileged status and rights sends a dangerous message of government approval of that behaviour and those practices. In conclusion, the RSL strongly opposes this bill and believes that the national parliament should not allow the public interest to be sacrificed in the push for special homosexual rights.

CHAIR —Thank you very much, Mr Bowen.

Senator PAYNE —It is not clear to me whether the submission says anywhere in particular that the RSL finds abhorrent or opposes the crime of genocide. Could you point that out to me in your submission, if it appears?

Mr Bowen —I am sorry, could you repeat that?

Senator PAYNE —It is not clear to me from a reading of your submission where you have said clearly that the RSL opposes, or finds abhorrent, or rejects—or any word you wish to use—the crime of genocide. I am wondering where that would appear in your submission.

Mr Bowen —It probably would be taken, and I would hope the senator would take the view, that it is implicit in the fact that we have not argued against the bill or the incorporation of genocide into the law of Australia. The RSL is only approaching this bill on a very narrow focus.

Senator PAYNE —Thank you for clarifying that for me.

Mr Bowen —I would not be here, probably, if it was not for the inclusion of the words `gender, sexuality, disability and political affiliation'.

Senator PAYNE —Just to clarify, you do oppose the bill though, as you say at the conclusion of your submission?

Mr Bowen —No, I only oppose the extension of the meaning of genocide in the convention that was adopted by Australia in the genocide act.

Senator PAYNE —If I might just compare the remark you have made with the conclusion of your submission, it quite clearly says that the RSL strongly opposes this bill. You do not actually make an exception in that opposition. Is it a matter you would like to correct on the record?

Mr Bowen —I will just check my opening statement.

Senator PAYNE —It is at the end.

Mr Bowen —I should clarify that when I say the RSL objects to the bill it is to the extent that the bill extends the meaning of genocide beyond the traditional accepted meaning as contained in the convention signed by the Australian government and incorporated into the Australian Genocide Convention Act.

Senator PAYNE —Thank you. In the opening paragraphs of your submission, where you refer to the origin of the crime of genocide, you refer to the deliberate and systematic extermination of Jews, Slavs and gypsies. Are you aware that there was also a deliberate and systematic effort to exterminate, in much the same way, homosexuals and members of the artistic community who were deemed to be homosexuals by the same regime that exterminated Jews, Slavs and gypsies?

Mr Bowen —I am certainly aware that Ernst Roehm, the former sturmbahnfuhrer of the SA or Sturmapteilung, was murdered, together with a lot of homosexuals who were originally quite well represented in the Nazi party prior to those murders taking place. I was not aware that in fact it was pursued as a matter of government policy. The Jewish murders have been so huge and the Holocaust has been so hugely accepted and is so horrifying that one tends to forget there probably were murders of people like homosexuals and disabled people.

Senator PAYNE —Indeed.

Mr Bowen —And, of course, the Nazi euthanasia squads used to go around selecting people for murder on the basis that they were no longer productive units of the state.

Senator PAYNE —Mr Bowen, your submission over nine or 10 pages concentrates, as you acknowledge, on one particular aspect of this draft legislation. Is it your view that, because they only constitute one to two per cent of the community or because of some other concerns you might have about homosexuality, people who identify as homosexual are not worthy of the same protections as are extended to other members of the community?

Mr Bowen —No. I thought it was made plain in my submission that they should not be given special protection that other people do not have. This would give them a privileged status that ordinary men and women would not have.

Senator PAYNE —Why is that?

Mr Bowen —And why should two per cent be singled out for special protection under the Anti-Genocide Bill?

Senator PAYNE —Mr Bowen, you are going to have to assist me, I think, at this point. The definition says:

genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a distinct group of people including, but not limited to, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, or a group based on gender, sexuality, political affiliation or disability.

How is that a special protection for a small number of people when it is a fairly broadly cast definition?

Mr Bowen —Senator, I thought that would probably have come through from my submission. I find it very difficult to believe that the national parliament would take the view that Australian men are about to kill Australian women in quantities that would constitute genocide or vice versa—that Australian women would be going to kill men, and it is the same with disabled people. That is why I take the view that the sexual orientation, the sexuality, has been put there amongst a screen of highly unlikely examples so that it does not stand out on its own.

Senator PAYNE —Are you suggesting that the systematic rape of women in war as a method of suppression is a highly unlikely eventuality and that a perpetrator of that might find themselves in Australia is a highly unlikely eventuality? Mightn't this legislation go some way towards assisting in dealing with that?

Mr Bowen —I would have thought it would already be covered under the laws of most nations. Rape against women is a criminal offence in every state and territory of Australia. I am not quite sure why special protection under the genocide act has to be included. I mean, it does not limit it. If it is not limited as it now appears to be from discussion with Reverend Nile, a group of bikies could say that they ought to be protected, because it is not limited to the specific groups that are mentioned there.

Senator PAYNE —I think Reverend Nile was referring to vilification legislation in New South Wales.

Mr Bowen —What I am saying is that the law does not exclude enlargement of that to include other groups. It refers to distinct groups, not excluding the possibility that other groups might say, `Well, we are a distinct group; we should be brought within this legislation, too'. It has cast its net very wide. It has a very wide potential and that is why I did not want to go outside—

Senator PAYNE —So does genocide, I think, Mr Bowen.

Mr Bowen —Would you please repeat that?

Senator PAYNE —So does genocide have a wide net.

Mr Bowen —Yes, I agree. What I am talking about are the public policy issues. I am simply saying that the public policy issues are so sated with homosexuality, and the enormous body of research that is available from the United States and England should cause the parliament to think carefully about whether a specific group should receive this special protection in the public interest if there are public policy reasons why it should not be singled out for special protection.

Senator PAYNE —In presenting a submission to a committee like this, Mr Bowen, from within the RSL, can you tell me how that is generated?

Mr Bowen —I happen to be the national honorary consultant on public affairs to 250,000 members of the RSL.

Senator PAYNE —Were you asked by your national president to write this submission?

Mr Bowen —Yes, that is right.

Senator PAYNE —Was it then adopted by the national committee of the RSL as a submission of the RSL?

Mr Bowen —It will probably go forward to the national congress. Now that this has been set in train, I do intend to do so. I have rewritten the submission in such a way that every point made and every reference supporting it is now consolidated. It was not possible in the time available to me; I had to put two documents together quickly. I had only two or three days in which to do the work, get it back to Canberra and down to you. I contemplate that these issues will now go to the national RSL congress in September. In some ways, I would prefer that the time of the RSL was not spent on this; we have got enough problems relating to the welfare of veterans without having to deal with this, but this is a family issue. I see it as raising an important family and public policy issue, so it has to be done. I now expect that this will go to the national congress, with a view to asking the national congress to express a view about the extension of the law of genocide in the way that is proposed. I do not think anyone would object to a genocide act that reflects, or mirrors, the covenant that we have ratified.

Senator PAYNE —Do you think the contents of your submission are broadly representative of the views of the RSL's 250,000 person membership?

Mr Bowen —I doubt if they are familiar with the amount of research that has been assembled in this area.

Senator PAYNE —Is this a particular interest of yours, Mr Bowen?

Mr Bowen —I used to be the president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Family Association. At the time of the equal opportunity act, in 1995, I assembled a lot of this material for that purpose.

Senator COONEY —What the convention seems to be doing is protecting groups. I think they are defined in the convention as national, ethnical, racial or religious groups. I take it that the RSL would agree that groups that are under particular attack are entitled to protection?

Mr Bowen —Do you mean act or international covenant?

Senator COONEY —The act. This is the Genocide Convention Act which adopts the convention.

Mr Bowen —The RSL has no problems with that legislation. It is the extension of the meaning of genocide in the way that this bill contemplates that troubles the RSL.

Senator COONEY —Can I tell you about something which may be causing some difficulty. I understand you are saying, `The convention doesn't support groups other than national, ethnical, racial or religious groups.' If you look at what the Americans did with Mr Kalejs, they seemed to put in, as a group, those that have political opinions which are not mentioned in the convention, or in the Genocide Convention Act 1949.

Mr Bowen —Perhaps you could tell me, Senator: did the American Senate ratify this covenant?

Senator COONEY —I was going to ask you that. You probably have not got time and we will check that. In the order to show cause which was served on Mr Kalejs, in paragraph 22 they said:

As a member of the Arajs commando and security police, you assisted or participated in the persecution of persons because of race, religion, national origin or political opinion under the direction of or in association with the Nazi Government of Germany or a government in an area occupied by the military forces of the Nazi Government of Germany.

That goes further than the convention. I do not know whether the Senate ratified this convention. I cannot say.

Mr Bowen —I think we would run into a problem in Australia if the national parliament pushed this legislation through. I am almost certain it would end up in the High Court. One does not really know any more what the High Court would say. It certainly does not reflect the covenant that we signed, in its present form.

Senator COONEY —So if parliament were to attempt to extend this legislation to protecting members of a group that pursued a political opinion, the Returned Soldiers League would have some problems with that?

Mr Bowen —We took the view that we should focus our concern on the extension of the provisions of the existing covenant because we felt that, if this goes beyond the covenant, the prospect of it being challenged is strong. First of all, it is going to be debated in the parliament and it has got to go through the lower House too. It is so many steps away that we felt it better to just focus on the public policy issues arising from an attempt to extend the groups protected in the original covenant to a new category.

Senator COONEY —I can take it that the RSL would not be intent upon protecting a group that has a political opinion within the terms of this legislation?

Mr Bowen —You mean against murderous activities or defamation? All those are already covered by law.

Senator COONEY —You are an old prosecutor. You ought to understand.

Mr Bowen —We have met before in a hearing like this.

Senator COONEY —You ought to understand what I am saying. There is a particular set of groups that are defined as being protected under the genocide convention. That has been brought in some sense—not in a complete sense, as you know—into the Australian law by the Genocide Convention Act 1949. There are particular groups that are protected. Is it the RSL's position that only those groups that are defined in the Genocide Convention Act and in the genocide convention itself should be protected because, as a matter of law, that is all the convention supports?

Mr Bowen —We believe that the international covenant should be observed and not extended in the way that is proposed.

Senator COONEY —The other point I raise is that you have developed, as Senator Payne has said, a lot of propositions about homosexual practices. That is based on your work in the family—

Mr Bowen —It is a very tiny percentage of my work. I do everything from immigration to constitutional law.

Senator COONEY —I understand that.

Mr Bowen —I find it a distraction that I have to deal with issues like this. But I did have to deal with it in 1995 specifically.

Senator COONEY —I can understand your saying particular groups should not have special protection. Are you saying that, if protection is needed, we should not give that group protection because of the sort of people they are, that is, that they are homosexuals and they practice all these terrible acts?

Mr Bowen —What I am saying is that you have got to look at the public policy issues. Once you start singling out a special group or a distinct group beyond those already covered by the covenant, you have got to have very strong grounds for including additional groups. Once you reach that situation then you have got to look at the broader public policy issues. I do not want to single out homosexuals for particular consideration but the bill is going to force this and and it is going to force a national discussion of these issues. I do not want to do it myself but I am being forced to do it because I have been instructed to.

Senator COONEY —I am probably not putting my point as strongly as I might. If, in fact, homosexuals were being discriminated against, would you say that was all right because they are of a particular character and they do all these things? Or would you say homosexuals are entitled to as much protection as anybody else?

Mr Bowen —I am saying homosexuals are entitled to the full protection of the criminal law, the equal opportunity law, the sex discrimination law and all the other laws that exist. They exist in Victoria and I hope they exist in other states and territories too. But you have got to exhaust all those before you can make a case for including homosexuals with racial groups in a bill of this kind. You have got to look at the public policy issues if you want to go outside the existing categories that our government agreed to protect.

Senator COONEY —Isn't that a proposition that you can put? So you say, `Righto, we've come along here to discuss this bill.' Isn't that your case? You say, `Look, the homosexuals shouldn't be put in as a special group; they're not entitled to special protection because they're under no more threat than anybody else.' But I think people are concerned because, instead of simply saying that, you have then developed a whole paper which seems to say that homosexuals engage in all sorts of awful practices. Putting that in may suggest—and you may want to correct me—that what you are saying is: `Well, look, even though homosexuals are under threat, even though they may become under threat, even though they do terrible things, they are somehow not as fully citizens of the country as everybody else.' Are you saying that?

Mr Bowen —No. No-one has shown to me that any group, other than those mentioned in the present convention—races, ethnic groups and people with particular religious affiliations—should be enlarged to include other groups that are seriously at risk of the kind of thing that was done to the Jews. Other people would say that could have been done to the Aboriginals too. Some people would argue that—and they are entitled to argue that—but I have yet to see any evidence that homosexuals have been treated in the way Aborigines were treated or the way Jews and gypsies were treated.

Senator COONEY —I can understand that proposition: why not just say that? I think where you may have left yourself open to some sort of questioning is that, if you put that as a proposition, I think that is a proposition that you can either accept or deny, and you can see what has been said. I think what you have done is to take the opportunity of throwing in all sorts of doubts about homosexuals and telling us what sorts of awful practices there are, and I am just wondering what the relevance of that is in the context.

Mr Bowen —It is not the practices. I do not care if some people practice witchcraft or something like that as long they do not cause disproportionate harm to the rest of the community. But all that evidence is intended to show you and the other members of this committee that a particular small group causes disproportionate harm. At this stage, I am not aware of witchcraft practitioners causing any particular harm.

Senator COONEY —Why do you bring that up in the context of this debate? If we started tackling criminals, say—people who are locked up in jail—surely if they were put under attack as a group, as a class, we would pass some laws to protect them, wouldn't we? I just want to give you the opportunity of commenting on this. Say it happened that criminals are locked up in jail or are under attack and we as a parliament are going to pass some laws to protect them because they as a group are under attack. You seem to be saying, `Look, let's not pass laws about that because they are criminals and therefore are not entitled to protection.' I would have thought that was a proposition that, given your background, you would not agree with.

Mr Bowen —What I am saying is that those people cause disproportionate harm to the rest of the community—in particular in the public health area—disproportionate cost to the public health system and create a disproportionate risk to young people. To prove all that, I have had to put that research before you, because if I had not you might say to me, `Where's your proof?' So, having put that before you, and having accepted the fact that you have said that I have done all this, now I am saying that I have put before you proof that there are major public policy issues in the way of giving special protections under the Genocide Act to homosexuals.

Senator COONEY —I would have thought that you would say, taking as given, for the purposes of the argument, all that you have said, even if that were so and those people were under particular threat, they need protection, no matter what they have done.

Mr Bowen —Wouldn't they get that under the law?

Senator COONEY —What you seem to be saying is that because people carry out particular acts they therefore surrender their right to protection.

Mr Bowen —No, I have not said that. You were not listening to what I was saying, with respect, about the criminal law, the defamation law, the equal opportunity law and all the other laws that are there to protect people who feel they are discriminated against. All I am arguing is that those who ask for special protection should show that they are deserving of it. That puts it in a nutshell.

Senator GREIG —Mr Bowen, you said a while ago that you have never seen any evidence that homosexual people were particularly singled out by the Nazis for genocide. Is that true?

Mr Bowen —They certainly were by Adolf Hitler, from the time of Ernst Roehm and the members of the SA—

Senator GREIG —You agree that homosexual people were the subject of genocide?

Mr Bowen —Yes. I think they were an embarrassment. I am not sure whether that is genocide because genocide only came into existence as a crime in 1945.

Senator GREIG —They are a particular group, aren't they?

Mr Bowen —Homosexuals were not included in the definition at that time because, as far as I am aware, Hitler was bumping off some of his associates who were an embarrassment to the clean-cut, blond Aryan image that he wanted to create.

Senator GREIG —Let me ask you again—and, if you could, give me a yes or no answer: do you acknowledge that homosexual people were singled out by the Nazis, amongst others, along with Jews, gypsies and socialists, that they were specifically sought and targeted, they were incarcerated in concentration camps and slaughtered in their thousands? Do you accept that? Yes or no?

Mr Bowen —As a lawyer, I have to say this to you: you cannot always ask someone to say yes or no without the facts being before the person. You are asking me to say yes or no to something without my having a full picture of the facts. I am just saying to you: from my reading of the origins of the law of genocide, those classes mentioned were Jews and gypsies—and Slavs as well. They who were shot, too, because Hitler looked down on the Slavic people as being an inferior race of people. I am not denying—

Senator GREIG —In which case, Mr Bowen, you need to further your reading. Are you familiar with the history of the pink triangle—the symbolism of the pink triangle and its origin?

Mr Bowen —Perhaps this is an area of special interest to you. I have to read world history and World War II—

Senator GREIG —You might be aware that when the Jews were incarcerated in the concentration camps they were forced to wear the Star of David, the yellow star.

Mr Bowen —Yes, that is correct.

Senator GREIG —The socialists wore, I think, a blue triangle. Homosexuals were forced to wear a pink triangle and the pink triangle survives today as a symbol of gay and lesbian human rights. There are—and I would encourage you to go and look at them should you have the time, either on the Internet or in person—a vast array of memorials and commemorative places throughout Europe which acknowledge and illustrate the persecution of homosexual people by the Nazis in the concentration camps; the two most prominent ones being Mauthausen in Vienna and Dachau. You argued that you are yet to be convinced that this was the case—that Nazis particularly singled out homosexuals.

Mr Bowen —I am talking about the histories of Germany that I have read, and I studied it at senior level at school. I concentrated on Japanese and East Asian history. I appreciate that your interest could possibly be directed more towards areas like this, but my history education was much broader, even at university level.

Senator GREIG —In your extraordinary submission, you make a range of claims. You refer to it as research and as facts. I would question and challenge every point that you make, but we do not have time to do that. Let me touch on a few of them. On page 2 of your submission, you say in part that `there is no objective proof that homosexuals suffer significant discrimination on a daily basis' and that they have the highest disposable incomes. Do you stand by that?

Mr Bowen —When I say `objective proof', I mean other than anecdotal stories that come forward. If a parliamentary inquiry had been launched into this subject—

Senator GREIG —It has been, and it found that there was extensive discrimination and it advocated reform. Essentially you say in your argument—it is a common argument; I have seen it used to attack and criticise homosexual people—that they have higher levels of disposable income. It is a kind of politics of envy, I think. Are you aware, Mr Bowen, that that is one of the exact same arguments that the Nazis used to persecute the Jews?

Mr Bowen —No, I am not, but I do tend to read the financial news every day and I do hear it constantly put forward that business is neglecting the homosexual section of the community and that they have higher disposable income—

Senator GREIG —That is a reference only to same sex couples without children. The same application is made to heterosexual couples without children. It is not based on sexuality. It is interesting, though, that anti-gay arguments are so incredibly linked to anti-Semitic arguments. Another one of the statements you made—

Mr Bowen —I would like you to know, Senator, and have it on record, that I am not anti-Semitic although you appear to be implying that I am. I want it clearly on record that I am not anti-Semitic.

Senator GREIG —I am very happy to state for the record that you are not anti-Semitic.

Mr Bowen —I felt that you were trying to link it together.

Senator GREIG —I am doing that definitely, yes.

Mr Bowen —You are suggesting I am anti-Semitic.

Senator GREIG —I am stating that you are using the language and the arguments of the Nazis in the same way that Hitler used them against the Jews. You are using the same language and the same arguments against homosexual people. I draw no distinction between anti-gay sentiment and anti-Semitic sentiment.

Let me draw another point. You claim in your submission that there is an exaggeration of the incidence of homosexuality and you have said repeatedly here today that homosexual people amount to only one or two per cent of the population. Interestingly, that too was one of the very strong arguments that the Nazis used against the Jews. Let me read from this document. It says that parasitical Jews represent only one per cent of the population yet are responsible for most of the crime. You are making the same argument here today against homosexual people and the incidences of child sexual abuse.

Mr Bowen —No, I am not, Senator. You are making that argument. It appears you have a special interest. You are ignoring the fact the Kinsey Institute, and I have put the reference there, has conceded the original 10 per cent figure was wrong. It is only one to two per cent.

Senator GREIG —I do not care whether it is 0.5 per cent.

Mr Bowen —The point I was trying to make, Senator—

Senator GREIG —The fact remains that if a person happens to belong to a minority group that is no reason to justify discrimination against them. I would make the point that members of the Australian Family Association make up an extreme minority group.

Mr Bowen —Could I just say this: you are taking all this out of context.

Senator GREIG —No, this is what you said.

Mr Bowen —That was in a context where I said it is very useful, to get political clout, to exaggerate the number of homosexuals in the community. This 10 per cent is often—

Senator GREIG —And the Nazis, for political clout, claimed the exaggeration of the numbers of Jews.

Mr Bowen —I know you are fond of going back to that—

Senator GREIG —Yes.

Mr Bowen —but I think you will find, Senator, if you care to make inquiries, that the Victorian government was invited to examine all of that research, those 60 references, in 1995. They were made available to the homosexual lobby in Melbourne and no-one came forward to say that the research was substantially wrong. In fact, no-one came forward to say that anything was wrong in it and I urged them to investigate it. No-one took up my offer.

Senator GREIG —I am not surprised because your allegations are so outrageous. But another point you made earlier was that you support the right of gay and lesbian people to be protected by existing criminal law and antidiscrimination legislation.

Mr Bowen —They are protected by that.

Senator GREIG —Then why did the Australian Family Association, which you represent, campaign vigorously against that when the Victorian government introduced it in 1995 and argue that gay and lesbian people should not be protected by antidiscrimination laws?

Mr Bowen —We did not.

Senator GREIG —You did.

Mr Bowen —We did not do that.

Senator GREIG —You did do that.

CHAIR —We are actually moving a little bit from the realms of this inquiry.

Senator GREIG —Back to the inquiry, Chair. You make repeatedly the claim that gay and lesbian people are a public health risk and you talk about extraordinary levels—

Mr Bowen —Can be, can be.

Senator GREIG —No. It says that—

Mr Bowen —The statistical evidence is clear.

Senator GREIG —I doubt that the information you have provided is evidence.

Mr Bowen —I can provide you, Senator, with a much easier way. I have a document here that has every point with a reference attached to it.

Senator GREIG —I do not doubt that, but the point I am getting to is that, once again, we come back to the fact that one of the key arguments that the Nazis used against the Jews was that they spread disease like rats. Once again we find that the historical incidence of discrimination against Jewish people and homosexual people is linked—

Mr Bowen —Mr Chairman, I find this offensive to be compared to a Nazi by the senator. I think it is going too far.

CHAIR —Order! Order!

Mr Bowen —Senator, I do object to the clear implication that I am like a Nazi.

Senator GREIG —I have never said that, Chair.

Mr Bowen —Anyone who knows me in Australia, and there are millions of Australians who know me, Senator, would be horrified to hear you suggesting I think like a Nazi.

CHAIR —I don't think they were quite the words that Senator Greig put to you.

Mr Bowen —Very close.

CHAIR —I don't think they were, and I would not want him to do it, in that sense. I do not think that he did, but I am listening as carefully as I can. From time to time people are talking over each other. It is going to make it very difficult for the transcript later on. We have got a time problem. We have got a couple of other people who want to talk to the committee, so if we can proceed—

Senator GREIG —I will wrap up, Chair. Mr Bowen, you have said repeatedly here that homosexual people should not have special rights. You claim that the inclusion of `sexuality' would facilitate special rights. I would like to make the point that the term `sexuality' includes heterosexual people, so there is no particular right for gay and lesbian people within that. However, I come back to my original point: it is an absolute historical fact that homosexual people have been persecuted, vilified and murdered and have been included within enormous amounts of genocide—most particularly within the Holocaust. So the inclusion of that is to acknowledge the fact that genocide has occurred against gay and lesbian people. To my way of thinking, there is no valid argument why that should be any different now. Why do you believe that homosexual people should not be protected in anti-genocide legislation?

Mr Bowen —Because there are criminal laws; there are defamation laws; there are equal opportunity laws. There are discrimination laws that protect them.

Senator GREIG —That has got nothing to do with genocide.

Mr Bowen —All have been brought in to protect them.

Senator GREIG —No, that is not true—not for genocide. You are wrong on that point.

Mr Bowen —What you are saying is that what happened 50 years ago justifies singling out homosexuals for special protection.

Senator GREIG —But the Nazis singled out homosexuals for special destruction.

Mr Bowen —That happened 50 years ago.

Senator GREIG —But it can always happen again. The other thing is that, of course, this legislation applies internationally, so if there are Holocaust survivors—gay and lesbian survivors—who believe that one of their oppressors is in Australia, they could then be prosecuted within Australia from overseas, if they happen to be on our shores. So the legislation does not just apply to a domestic jurisdiction.

Mr Bowen —Yes, I accept that it has got extra-territorial effect.

CHAIR —Thank you very much, Mr Bowen, for your attendance here this afternoon. You will be provided with a copy of the transcript. If you think that the words you have uttered to the committee have not been accurately reflected, I would advise you to get back to the committee as quickly as possible after you have received the transcript. There have been moments during the hearing when people were talking over each other. It will make it somewhat difficult for the transcription, but we will see what we can do. I thank you for your attendance here this afternoon.

Mr Bowen —Thank you, Chair.

[3.03 p.m.]