Campaign urges Australians to respect LGBTI people
A major new multimedia campaign launched today by national depression and anxiety initiative Beyondblue will urge the wider community to stop, think and respect LGBTI Australians in a bid to help reduce discrimination and bullying.
The campaign intends to encourage members of the community to consider the discrimination faced by LGBTI people by comparing their current situation to the outdated practice of past generations which forced children who were born left-handed to use their right hand, as this was deemed to be ‘correct’ and left-handedness ‘unnatural’.
As part of the ‘Stop, Think, Respect’ campaign, a two-minute commercial will screen at 100 cinemas nationwide until Christmas, while a 30-second version of the advertisement will run on an ongoing basis on television with the support of media organisations.
The stories of six LGBTI people who have faced discrimination will also be available via social media platforms to broaden the campaign’s reach.
The campaign is aimed at lessening discriminatory attitudes about LGBTI people held by young heterosexual men in particular.
Speaking at the launch held at Event Cinemas at Bondi Junction, Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett said that research had shown that LGBTI people were at least two to three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader population and were also at greater risk of suicide and self-harm.
“Almost half hide their sexuality or gender identity in a range of situations fearing violence or discrimination – with young people aged 16 to 24 years more likely to do so than any other age group.
“This is why Beyondblue, together with Movember, has contributed $1.5 million to this major national antidiscrimination and stigma-reduction campaign which includes cinema ads, TV, print and outdoor ads, and personal video stories from GLBTI people who have experienced depression and anxiety as a result of discrimination,” he said.
“The ads and videos can also be seen on Beyondblue’s website, Facebook and YouTube pages.”
Shane, a gay man in his early 40s who has battled depression for over a decade, told SX discrimination – particularly that experienced at school or during adolescence – had a big impact on people’s lives.
“I grew up to hate myself, resulting in anxiety and depression,” he said.
“A hurtful comment doesn’t just hurt someone’s feelings ... the bigger picture is that it can really destroy someone’s sense of self.”
Gina Wilson, president of intersex activist group Organisation Intersex International (OII), told SX she wanted to be involved in the campaign because Beyondblue had become “more responsive” and “really proactive” in recent months on the links between discrimination and poor mental health.
“I thought it was important to be part of the campaign because Beyondblue has a really high public profile and really does get stuff out there.
“It’s going to make a big splash about how prejudice affects people’s psyche – it causes depression, makes people feel bad about themselves and leads to ideas about killing yourself” she said.
“It’s going to make people more aware that there’s LGBTI people out there. Beyondblue I think is going to play an enormous part in raising people’s consciousness about intersex.”
Young gay woman, Annaliese, meanwhile told SX as someone who had experienced depression brought on by discrimination she hoped the “personal and intimate” nature of the campaign would help create a community-wide dialogue.
“I see the effects of discrimination in our community all the time.
“I think that a lot of the time when people discriminate against groups in society is because they don’t have a personal experience of that group,” she said.
“They hold these really negative views but once they get to know an individual, a family or a group of people from that culture or identity things really start to change.”
CAMPAIGN TO TARGET MAINSTREAM ATTITUDES
Besides the ads, briefing packs for health professionals, community service organisations and schools will be distributed nationally to assist people working in these areas to be more inclusive of GLBTI people and more respectful and understanding of issues faced by this population group.
Speaking to SX following the launch, Kennett said the likes of mainstream sporting bodies such as the AFL and NRL would be among the groups provided with the information packs.
“We will introduce this campaign to the leadership of both those bodies as we will to other organisations and we hope they pick up on this fundamental concept: Why should we treat people differently who are just being themselves?” he said.
The campaign marks a shift for Beyondblue, with the organisation over its first 12 years focusing on raising awareness of depression and anxiety, with the next decade to see greater efforts on reducing discriminatory and stigmatising behaviour and attitudes which can trigger mental health issues.
Kennett told SX he was confident he was the right man to lead the long term project.
“I believe in what we’re trying to do and I believe in leading the advocacy for it,” he said.
“So many people have different perceptions of me that it actually helps sell the message. A lot of people would not easily associate the fact that I am heading up a campaign that hopefully brings about the end of discrimination.”
Pictured: Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett and CEO Kate Carnell with Mardi Gras chairperson Peter Urmson, OII president Gina Wilson and Shane (Serkan Ozturk)