Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 845 ..
The presiding judge slammed the actions of 39 of the 43 police who participated in the strip search. Judge Ostrowski ruled that the actions of the police involved in the raid exceeded the search warrant and that the detainment and consequent strip searching of each patron on the night was unreasonable, and amounted to assault.
In Australia today, there are many parents with lesbian daughters and gay sons who are victims of social, political and economic oppression. There are still people who must hide aspects of themselves from public view, through fear of disadvantage and reprisals. Doctors in practice and even politicians seeking pre-selection continue to hide their identities. I personally know members of parliament who hide this aspect of themselves for fear of that stigma. Gay people in many communities, particularly in rural and remote Australia, are still obstructed by prejudice in the pursuit of happiness, and in striving to live their lives with openness and dignity.
In case we are led to believe that attitudes have significantly changed here, or in the United States, I wish to make brief reference to a young man named Matthew Shepherd, who was a slightly-built 21-year-old student in Wyoming. In 1998, Matthew was lured from a campus bar by two men. They drove him to a remote area outside Laramie, where he was viciously beaten.
As he lay there bleeding and pleading for his life, he was bound to a fence, in near-freezing temperatures, and left to die. He had been beaten so badly that his limp body, when found, was at first thought to be a scarecrow. His attackers had stolen his shoes and raided his apartment. After being struck in the head 18 times with the butt of a handgun, he remained in a coma for five days, without ever regaining consciousness-and then he died. Matthew Shepherd was murdered because he was gay.
It may be tempting to think that such a thing could not happen here in Australia. However, I remind the house that, since 1990, no fewer than 30 men have been bashed to death in Sydney. This violence does not occur in a vacuum-it is not spontaneous. Homophobic hatred takes years to develop in a community and is cultivated by a culture of fear towards gay and lesbian people. In this regard, parliaments which remain indifferent to this hatred and discrimination are complicit.
Today, Mr Speaker, we end that indifference and complicity. To all those people who still hold attitudes of fear, malice and ignorance towards gay and lesbian people, I say, "Get over it."I am proud to live in a community where we strive to include everyone. For those who are not included, this becomes the urgent business of this Assembly.
MR CORNWELL (11.36): The first thing we should say is that discrimination is not resolved by law. You can pass all the legislation you like, sir, in relation to discrimination and numerous other things. The question is how people feel personally, in their hearts and their heads.
I think it is also true to say that discrimination is often in the eye of the beholder. I will come to that later. I also believe, however, that discrimination should not be used to stifle or silence legitimate debate in a democratic society. Too often, under political correctness, this is exactly what occurs. If you criticise Aboriginals, you run the risk of