You are here

IDAHOBIT Breakfast

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 25 May 2022


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I want to speak tonight about the fantastic IDAHOBIT breakfast and celebration that I went to last week. IDAHOBIT is a funny little acronym that evolved from 31 years ago when the WHO removed homosexuality from the classification of diseases and related health problems and is the day to celebrate an end to homophobia, biphobia, interphobia and transphobia. That international day is now recognised as IDAHOBIT and it is celebrated each year for LGBTIQA+ people globally to raise awareness of the work that we still need to do to continue to combat stigma, hate and discrimination.

This year and every year the Working It Out board and staff organise this. I pay my great respects to Jacob Miller, the chair of the board, and Lynn Jarvis, the CEO of Working It Out. They award Dorothies for trailblazers in the LGBTIQA+ community, for people who increase pride in the community. The Dorothies were named after Dorothy McRae-McMahon. This year Dorothy McRae-McMahon sent words to those of us at the breakfast. Dorothy lives in Sydney. She has been a feminist, Christian trailblazer since the 1970s. She was born in 1934 and has dedicated her life to women's liberation LGBTIQA+ rights, anti-apartheid and peace activism as well as to her family, her four children, her religious and spiritual matters.

She was born in Zeehan. Her father was a Methodist minister there. She also lived in Beaconsfield, Launceston and Hobart. She moved to Sydney in the 1960s and was ordained as a minister in the Uniting Church in 1982. She committed her work to human rights and local street activism. She became a national director for the mission of the Uniting Church in Australia in 1993, was the first woman moderator of the World Council of Churches worship committee.

She ended her marriage when she recognised herself to be a lesbian and 10 years later, in 1997, she took brave step of coming out to the Uniting Church's national assembly in a public statement that caused a massive stir in Australia and around the world. It sadly resulted in a number of homophobic attacks.

Dorothy went on to speak about peace and love and used her successful campaign of activism to have homosexual ministers formerly accepted by the Uniting Church. She made then what now seems to be an obvious point, that homosexuality is a sign of wholeness rather than of moral decay. Dorothy's life of courage, her commitment to justice and personal integrity has initiated wide public conversation and social change on many issues resulting in the acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy in the Uniting and some other churches.

She spoke to us through someone from Baptcare who read out her words -

Honest living is often a little easier for us these days. In some environments we are more likely to be accepted and our lives are lifted in hope. To be able to be authentic brings us into profound living. I know that I feel more truly and deeply alive. I celebrate that experience within my section of the Uniting Church and a number of groups to which I belong. Being loved and accepted means we can offer all sorts of gifts to others and invites our community to live more widely and deeply in many unexpected ways. It adds all sorts of things to the world in which we live. So, let us all be part of that.

Thank you, Dorothy McRae-McMahon, for your courage, your vigour and your outspokenness.

I want to finish by mentioning the words that Rowan Richardson made to the breakfast. Rowan is a very talented, funny young man. The theme of his talk was ironically about trans issues and LGBTIQ issues in sport. That was chosen before the federal election. There was quite a lot of conversation about the stigma and the opportunity we have for trans people to live wholly and completely with acceptance in our community. Rowan made some very important points to us. He said:

Queer people taking up space and proudly owning their identity is the antithesis of shame, which is the primary weapon used to keep us in the shadows and keep us thinking we are second-class citizens. When we stop accepting being second-class citizens and being open and proud, this challenges the status quo and makes things change. People hate change especially the Australian Christian Lobby. Openly queer people being successful in anything is a threat to the conspiracy of the status quo that all queer people are broken. Magnify that by a hundred because the sporting picture has always been territory for macho true-blue Australians and success there means we are beating them at their own game and writing ourselves into the nation's storybook. Queer people are part of the national identity. It's a true victory for our community and some people don't like that.

So, what can we do about? He said:

Truth is the antidote to fear, pride is the antidote to shame. If you are a queer, trans, or gender con-conforming person in the audience, know the best thing you can do is proudly live your truth to show others it's possible. If you are an ally, shame works in insidious ways. Don't ever let shame stop you from doing the brave thing. Know that you are going to get it wrong. Tell people you are proud of them. Spread truth and engage with people who need to hear it.