Justice Kirby Sees Continuing Homophobia

Gay CoupleAUSTRALIA – Australia’s best known gay judge has urged all homosexuals to emerge from their secret lives to help break down “the spell of silence” and conquer homophobia.
The High Court’s Justice Michael Kirby says discrimination and injustice that still exist against homosexuals are unlikely to be eradicated in this lifetime.
“But that does not excuse us, whether heterosexual or gay, from our obligation to try (to eradicate it),” he said in a speech delivered in Sydney on Friday evening.
Justice Kirby, who for 37 years has lived openly with his gay partner in Sydney, said there was a number of “home truths” that gays and heterosexuals must currently face up to.
While discrimination against gays is still comparatively widespread in Australia, there should be pride in the achievements of the past 50 years.
“There are injustices that we cannot see today that will be obvious in 20, 50 and 100 years’ time,” he said.
“We will not in our lifetimes witness the correction of all discrimination and injustice affecting gays in Australia, still less in the wider world.”
Justice Kirby said dislike of differences was still being enforced by forces that were not likely to disappear soon.
“Such forces include the childish desire to erase differences in humanity and to stamp similarity and identity on everyone around us,” he said.
“It was this desire that lay at the heart of the former White Australia policy and of apartheid in South Africa.
“Prejudices and dislike will, ultimately, only recede when gay people themselves break the spell of silence and stand up to be counted,” he said.
This was the way that, earlier, prejudice against non-white people was eroded in Australia, even if not yet completely, he said.
“When growing numbers of Asian Australians, Arab Australians, Aboriginals and ‘reffos’ came to be known on a personal level, it was impossible to sustain the previous feelings of hate, discrimination and superiority.”
Yet many gay people can, if they choose, continue to live secret lives, he said.
It was important homosexuals realised many of the changes in laws and social attitudes achieved in the past 50 years were carried out by “straight friends”.
It was also important to remember that many issues bombarded society, beyond the one that was often most pressing and urgent to them.
“It cannot be said that human rights demands, based on sexuality, are the most important in the whole world,” he said.
“They are significant. But there are others at least of equal significance, and in some circumstances even greater urgency.”
This included the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger as well as the achievement of universal basic education, he said.
from National News Nine

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