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UWA advances "gay friendly" policies: conservative campus moves forward.

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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Sexuality Issues

11 June 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/302

UWA advances “gay friendly” policies Conservative campus moves forward The Australian Democrats applaud the University of Western Australia for its Ally Network program launched recently, which is designed to offer support, empathy and information for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) staff and students.

Democrats’ Sexuality spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, says the Ally Network will help give reassurance and confidence to GLBTI people within the campus community, in a similar fashion to existing sexual harassment programs which have assisted students and staff in the past.

“A recent survey of 754 students, conducted as part of UWA’s Rainbow Project, found that 5 per cent did not identify as heterosexual,” Senator Greig said.

At the same time the survey showed that many myths about gay and lesbian people are still strong amongst some students, and that homophobia is an issue that needs to be addressed on campus.

“The survey showed that 13.7 per cent of respondents feel homosexuality is not acceptable, 14.3 per cent think it is immoral, and 85.6 per cent of respondents know someone who has made derogatory remarks about gay people,” said Senator Greig.

“On the positive side, 52.2 per cent of respondents support the notion of gay marriage, 84.5 per cent said they would not end a friendship if they discovered a friend was gay, and 84.2 per cent said that bisexual people are not confused.”

The survey also found that 35.2 per cent of respondents did not say anything when others made derogatory remarks about gay people, 10 per cent knew someone who had damaged the property of a gay person, and 58.6 per cent felt that lesbians did not make bad parents.

“The Ally Network will hopefully create a more welcoming and inclusive culture on campus by promoting greater visibility and awareness of GLBTI staff and students and issues,” Senator Greig said.

In promoting the Ally Project, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost, Professor Alan Robson, said it had generated important debate on the need for greater understanding of the issues faced by GLBTI staff and students. He said it was timely for the University to pro-actively respond to the challenges highlighted in the Rainbow Project report, a ground breaking sexuality initiative in the higher education sector in Australia.

Ally Website: Contacts: Senator Brian Greig, 08) 9228 3133 or Di Graham on 0417 177 523