The focal point for this weeks topic was where women stand in terms of equality in media jobs. While it is very well known that women and men are treated differently in the media workforce, there is little emphasis ever put on sexuality in the workforce.
Recently, an acquaintance of mine left his job at a well known TV station. While this is not an unusual happening, his reason for leaving had me feeling shocked, and surprised at finding out that treatment of this sort is still happening. My friend felt forced to finish up his 10 year career with a major Australian TV company because he was severely bullied in the workplace for being gay. While I will not go into details of the bullying that he was receiving, further research has led me to discovering that he is not alone in this type of workplace discrimination.
Although same-sex marriage is still yet to be legalised in this country, I thought it to be absolutely absurd that something so unimportant, such as a person’s sexuality to still be an issue not only in the workplace, but also in general. For starters, we’re in the 21st century, sexuality shouldn’t matter! Secondly, we live just shy of Sydney, one of the top ten gay friendly cities in the world, so one would think, if anything, that being gay in this area would be well supported by society!
Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry which was commissioned by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2006, harassment of LGBT persons in the workplace is still a common occurrence. Leaving many LGBT workers feeling like they’re being targeted and needing to forfeit their careers to escape from the homophobic environment. In some cases, applicants have been unsuccessful in getting jobs and promotions for being homosexual. The Inquiry also found that, when feeling forced to leave a position due to discrimination, the victim rarely takes legal action, which I found interesting as my friend chose not to take legal action when leaving his job. The example that is used in the Inquiry speculates that the reason for not taking legal action may be due to the ‘who knows who’ in the particular industry that the worker was from, which can also be applied to media jobs, although my friends reasoning for not taking action was simply because he wanted to move on from what had happened.
In terms of benefits and roles within certain jobs, it seems that roles that members of the LGBT community have within the media are similar to that of women. For example, homosexuals are given ‘soft stories’ to cover ie; Richard Reid, the Today Show’s token celebrity gossip guru.
And in terms of entitled leave, same-sex couples aren’t guaranteed parental leave, as the WorkChoices legislation has narrow definitions for the terms ‘spouse’ and ‘child’, meaning that homosexual co-parents aren’t guaranteed the leave due to the legislations definition of ‘paternity leave’. This is also the same for work-related travel entitlements, as same-sex partners is not included in the definition of ‘spouse’.
The Inquiry concludes the segment on homosexual treatment in the workplace by recommending that definitions and clauses in several legislations need to be amended in order for there to be equal treatment amongst homosexual and heterosexual persons in the workforce, and I couldn’t agree more.