What follows is a copy of my submission to: The Senate Standing Committee on Legal & Constitutional Affairs
on the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012
It is also a very brief look at My Autobiography which I am hoping to have with publishers by the end of March this year.
I am a 49 year-old man who is very happy to have survived to this age.
On a number of occasions, throughout the last 39 years, I have been in the position of either
contemplating or taking action to take my own life.
This may sound dramatic. However, this is the inevitable outcome of the considerable torment
both internal and external that I have experienced over these years. The cause of this torment
was not of my own initiation; I never did anything that would either cause, or initiate such
treatment. Instead, this persecution arose simply because I existed.
There were no adults, or authorities I could turn to, to be able to seek assistance, or solace.
When I did actually confide in someone I was raised to trust I received either scorn, or was
palmed off with a platitude requiring me to either “Man-up,” or to simply “accept that it was
my lot in life.”
I was brought up in a “good” Irish Catholic home. I took part in my faith community as a
regular reader in church and as an altar server; both from the age of 11. I would always take
myself to church, even on Sundays when the rest of my family did not attend. I grew up
thoroughly indoctrinated by my faith and the Catholic traditions of my forebears.
Arriving in Australia in 1973, at the age of 10 ½ I had always maintained a good group of
friends and for the most part, like any other child, I enjoyed going to school.
However, upon enrolling at Lynwood Primary School in February 1974 my world was
shattered. Coming from England and with my family up bringing I was a well-mannered and
well-spoken child. As a result I became the target of abuse by the more “goonish” members of
my peer group. From that day I was labeled as “Poofter Kid.” I’d never encountered the term
to this point and when I finally found out what it meant I was both mortified and felt shame
for the first time in my young life.
The bullying changed very quickly from verbal to physical abuse. Any other student who
dared to attempt friendship with me swiftly became a target of the very same bullies and in
most cases their voices joined the chorus of abusers. I was a social outcast, the isolation
caused teachers to cast me as a loner; a lone-wolf; they were either blind to, or simply chose
to ignore, what was happening before their very eyes.
As a Christian I took this to be my cross to bear in life and I prayed for those who abused me.
However, over time this also became wearing. The original goons, who were a year older than
I was, moved on to the local high school. But, the damage to my reputation and social standing
was already done and even the following year the bullying continued.
Upon arrival at High school the original tormentors were ready and waiting to continue their
campaign of vilification, slander and defamation. Their audience had increased because the
school had drawn from a number of feeder schools. What should have been my opportunity to
expand my social network, was perverted by the now growing group of thugs, who used their
brawn to ensure that; anyone who showed any interest in making my acquaintance was brow
beaten, or physically threatened, should they initially reject these idiots.
When the move to change schools, in Geraldton, came I was thrown from the frying pan into
the fire. The boy that the principal chose, to orient into the school, was himself the victim of
the same kind of abuse that I had faced in my previous school. That year was a horror that
eventually saw me being sexually abused by another bully under the supervision of a female
teacher who simply chose to ignore what was happening.
It was during these sensitive teen years that I discovered that I was oriented sexually to my
own sex. I had no attraction, whatsoever, to the opposite sex. With my background and with
the torment that I had received and continued to receive over the following years I grew in
shame and to despise whom I was. I could find no solace; I fought against my orientation at
every turn and eventually turned to thoughts of and then acting out those suicidal ideations.
After leaving school the physical abuse ceased, for some time. Upon entering the workforce I
discovered a much bigger world than the school environment permits many young people to
envisage. I still discovered that there was one part of who I was that needed to remain hidden.
A part of me that even I despised still. I spent the next 10 -15 years in different programmes
and courses to try and “heal” my sexuality. I was led to believe that I had something seriously
wrong with me. I was still socially unacceptable.
Needless to say that I was never healed, it is impossible to change something that is as
intrinsic to your being as eye, hair, or skin colour; or, as in my case my sexuality. Until I came
to my own personal place of acceptance I was unable to move forward; hamstrung by a false
set of limitations that need never have been there in the first place.
I gained a degree in Communication and Cultural studies; majoring in English and Literature
and eventually trained as a High School Teacher. Even in the process of attaining my teaching
qualification, through Notre Dame Australia I faced prejudice and discrimination, whilst on
practicum, from the supervising teacher, who was more interested in the fact that I wore a
coat, scarf and hat while on duty, during the middle of winter; than in my teaching ability
(which, she acknowledged to my university supervisors, she could not fault.) I was neither
open, nor overt, about my sexuality; choosing to keep my private life private. The university
ensured that I was well treated and placed me in a much safer place to finish my practicum.
When I eventually entered the teaching workforce, the following year, I was placed in a small
country town and chose to ensure that my privacy be maintained. Unfortunately when you
are forced into cramped shared accommodation the keeping of secrets is eventually futile. Yet,
even though my sexuality was not generally a topic of discussion assumptions were made and
used against me. Statements made by my supervisor and his wife (also teaching at the same
school) to discredit me, were eventually, proved to be fraudulent and both of them were
removed from service.
One of the biggest problems at that time was the inappropriate law governing gay teachers at
that time, in WA. Many GLBTI teachers lived in fear of being “found-out” and run out of town,
or out of a school.
I faced a further 6 years of persecution from either deputy principals, or for the most part
Heads of Department (HOD) who were prejudiced against Gay people. In my final year
teaching I faced a constructed dismissal by a HOD who would phone me up at home to tell me
“You know people are talking about you!” speculation around my suspected HIV status was, in
his mind, the topic de jour. The fact that I had recently received a positive diagnosis and was
working through that, as well as my full teaching load, even though I had not disclosed to
anyone; created sufficient stress and its subsequent effects on my overall mental and physical
health to the point that I was brought before the department’s doctor and informed that if I
didn’t disclose, what was wrong with me, there would be no further assistance and that
refusal would require me to resign.
This seven-year period provided it’s own opportunities to contemplate and once again
required great strength and courage to stop me from acting out suicidal impulses.
This history is important for you as a Senate committee to know, before you decide on your
recommendations to the government about the proposed Human Rights and Anti-
Discrimination Bill 2012. Even though there have been changes to Federal laws that should
protect GLBTI people and also HIV positive people from discrimination many people face
similar acts of discrimination as well as violent acts of both verbal and physical vilification
every day in this country; particularly our youth, who at the most vulnerable stage of their
lives are dependent on at least someone, if not the government, to provided them with
protections for simply being who they are.
Sexuality and Health status should never be acceptable grounds for someone to deny
someone a job if they have all of the qualifications and experience required. In the case of
religious institutions, unless a person is giving religious instruction, particularly if they are the
most qualified for the position, their sexuality should not be permitted to be a barrier to
It should not be acceptable for organisations like the ACL and their followers to peddle in halftruths
and outright lies about GLBTI people and expect to be able to do that with impunity.
We don’t accept that kind of activity on the basis of race and should therefore not accept it on
the basis of sexuality, or HIV status.
If we want a better Australia then we need the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill
2012 to provide protection against unjustifiable acts of discrimination and vilification that