Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 February 2019


Australian Defence Force: LGBTQ Personnel

4:23 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

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

(ii) 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,

(iii) 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,

(iv) 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, and

(v) transgender people continued to be subject to policies, until September 2010, that required them to discharge if they intended to affirm their gender; and

(b) calls on all parliamentarians to:

(i) acknowledge the personal and professional harm that these policies have caused,

(ii) 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, and

(iii) celebrates the contribution of the LGBTQ people who bravely served in the ADF despite these discriminatory policies.

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

While the government cannot confirm the sources and accuracy of the information quoted in the motion, we would like to add that it has been over 20 years since the Defence Force changed the policy to enable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex members to serve in the Australian Defence Force openly, without fear of losing their career, which marked the beginning of a journey reflecting Defence's commitment to a fair, inclusive and equitable workplace. Defence and the government have previously apologised to all members of the Australian Defence Force who suffered sexual, mental and physical abuse during their service. There are avenues available to both current and former ADF personnel who feel they have suffered abuse during their service.

Question agreed to.