Tasmania remains Australia’s most homophobic state, according to an Australia Institute survey this week, and activist Rodney Croome has blamed this surge in homophobia on evangelical and fundamentalist church leaders.

The AI’s survey of Australian homophobia shows that 40% of Tasmanians believe homosexuality is immoral, and homosexual couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt. This figure was slightly ahead of second placed Queensland, and well ahead of the other states.

Tasmania’s north-west coast was found to be one of the country’s most homophobic regions, with almost 50% of respondents believing homosexuality is immoral and homosexual adoption wrong. Croome – in an analysis on www.tasmaniantimes.com – says that what this reveals “is not intractable, low-lying, residual prejudice, but something much newer and more dangerous.”

While evangelical and fundamentalist church leaders have made inroads into outer urban and regional communities across the country, in Tasmania those inroads have been deeper thanks to the tight-knit nature of Tasmanian society. It’s the same inter-connectedness that benefited the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community when its representatives took to the road in the 1990s and first years of the 21st century, to foster support for their human rights among their heterosexual compatriots.

The fundamentalists are following the path beaten by LGBT people into the hearts and minds of ordinary Tasmanians, but their goal is a very different one. Their sudden growth is obvious if you compare their failure to stop the Relationships Act in the state Upper House in 2003 to their derailing of sex industry reform in the same chamber last month.

Read the full story here.

Peter Fray

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