12 May 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise in support of this motion and I thank the Hon. Ian Hunter MLC for putting this forward for the chamber's consideration. May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT day). For me, it is an opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, but also, as the honourable member stated in his remarks, it is a time for us to reflect on the work that is yet to be done.
On Monday, I had cause to reflect on how far we have come when I joined the Hon. Ian Hunter and other members of this parliament at the commemoration of the death of Dr George Duncan. It was 49 years this year since Dr Duncan, a law academic at the University of Adelaide, was murdered and thrown into the River Torrens. It is, of course, a terrible travesty that those killers have never been brought to justice.
As has been outlined, we know that it was that tragic event that intensified public pressure and eventually forced legislative change to occur in South Australia. South Australia became the first state in our nation to decriminalise homosexual acts—a breakthrough moment for South Australia. We have achieved an awful lot since then, but there is lots of work to do.
I echo the comments made by the Hon. Ian Hunter regarding conversion therapy. This is an issue of grave concern for the Greens. Those practices are abusive. This idea that you can lead somebody to change their sexuality is not supported by any evidence and it actually puts vulnerable young people in a really invidious position. It compounds their stress and anxiety and has a range of terrible health outcomes, so that is something that this parliament needs to work to scrap as an urgent priority.
I would also draw members' attention to anti-discrimination laws, which I understand are subject to state government review at the moment. Currently, religious organisations have exemptions to those laws, and I think it is appalling that religious organisations have the capacity to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people, including students and teachers. That is wrong.
Organisations that take public funding—take public money—should not get a 'get out of gaol free' card when it comes to anti-discrimination laws. That is something that needs to change and I look forward to those reforms coming to this parliament for consideration because it is time for South Australia to say that all South Australians, irrespective of their gender identity or their sexuality, are equal before the law. We should not be allowing religious organisations to continue to shirk their responsibilities under the law.
I also want to draw this chamber's attention to the ongoing persecution of LGBTI people that is occurring overseas. As the Hon. Ian Hunter stated, just last week there was the tragic murder of Ali Fazeli Monfared in Iran. Mr Monfared was a 22-year-old gay Iranian man who was allegedly killed in an honour killing by some of his male family members after they found out that he was gay, according to the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network. I want to read out some of the facts in relation to that case, simply because it is important for us to reflect as a chamber on the appalling circumstances faced by many LGBTI people overseas and the need for all levels of government to take any action they can to advance the rights of LGBTI people.
This young man was allegedly killed in what was referred to as an 'honour killing'. I am quoting from the article of NBC by Jo Yurcaba, dated 12 May 2021. He received an exemption card in the mail from the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps after disclosing his homosexuality, but one of his male relatives found it and discovered that he was gay.
The organisation reported that the relative had previously told this man's father that the young man had dishonoured his family due to the way that he dressed. After finding the exemption card, a group of male relatives took Fazeli Monfared to a rural village on 4 May and killed him. The card and the exemption for homosexuality as a disease put this man in danger.
The organisation 6rang, which is an organisation that advocates for LGBTI people in Iran—again, this is NBC reporting—said that the alleged killers, after the atrocious murder had taken place, called the man's mother and told her where to find her only son's beheaded body. This is horrific and sadly a reminder of the hate crimes that we see unfolding in many places around the world. I am also reminded of the persecution of LGBTI people in Russia and the appalling persecution of LGBTI people in Chechnya, so we do need to do whatever we can to address that ongoing human rights abuse.
In concluding, as part of IDAHOBIT we celebrate what has been achieved and the great law reform work that has been done in our state, but we also reflect on the work yet to be done—the need to get rid of conversion therapy as a priority, the need to strengthen our anti-discrimination laws so that all South Australians are equal before the law and the need for our federal government to call out appalling human rights abuse of LGBTI people around the globe and to do what they can to advance the rights of LGBTI people not just in Australia but internationally.