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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Kevin Hague: 'Homophobia is the enemy of a fair society'

Posted in: Features
By Kevin Hague - 21st October 2009

Green Party MP Kevin Hague
Green Party MP and spokesperson for LGBT issues, Kevin Hague, reacts below to the latest Kiwi research showing that in the last twelve months more than a third of same/both-sex attracted secondary school students had seriously thought about attempting suicide and around half had deliberately harmed themselves.

Mr. Hague's Green Party 'frogblog' is reproduced here with his kind permission.


The elimination of prejudice and discrimination is important not only for the creation of a fair society that celebrates difference and diversity, but also because our nation will be stronger if it uses all the talents and strengths available to it. We collectively lose if opportunities are effectively denied to some.

So in addition to the compassion that I am sure we all feel at the news that a third of same/both-sex attracted secondary students have seriously considered suicide and a half have deliberately harmed themselves in the past twelve months, we should also recognise that this represents a grievous waste of potential, which harms us all.

It is well-established that, with few exceptions,the health status of a population group is a function of its marginalisation in a society. That is why laws that discriminate and social environments that allow prejudice to persist are not only justice problems, but of fundamental concern in health.

It is no surprise to read that this group of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are at increased risk of all sorts of health problems, including the risk of HIV infection.

Put yourself in the position of a young person coming to the understanding that she or he is not heterosexual. Very likely virtually every aspect of your social conditioning (family, friends, media, culture, church, school etc) has created an expectation for you and everyone else of heterosexuality. Occasionally you might be lucky enough to be aware of non-heterosexual adults who seem to have happy and productive lives, but these people are quite likely to seem pretty remote from you and more likely you will know of nobody else. You feel like the only one, you feel as if your very existence lets down everyone around you and you feel alone. To make things worse, you are surrounded by routine homophobia equating being gay with everything that is pathetic or disgusting. You'd feel pretty bad, right? I remember.

As adults we have both the opportunity and absolute responsibility to put that right. This latest research is about schools. Over the years there have been a number of excellent guidelines and resources developed for schools to help them do this better. Some have been excellent. But many schools have done nothing at all. It isn't good enough, and we need to be working to ensure that there is a requirement, which is monitored and policed,for schools to take actions to actively support gay, lesbian and bisexual young people and to keep them safe.

Kevin Hague - 21st October 2009

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