Edith Cowan University has revoked an honorary doctorate that was awarded earlier this year to former West Australian MP Barry House, following protests from students and activists against his past anti-LGBTQI + rhetoric.
“The University communicated with its staff and students through a global message. The communication described the collective decision of the ECU Council, the university’s governing body, ”the ECU spokesperson told Star Observer.
In an email to students and staff on July 20, Professor Steve Chapman, vice-chancellor of the ECU, said the university council last met to consider the matter and had decided to revoke the award.
“As you know, public criticism has been leveled after the award by community groups, staff and students expressing serious concerns about the comments made by Mr. House during parliamentary debates on the reform. of the LGBTIQ + law. These comments were clearly incompatible with the values of the University, ”the email said.
“Nasty” response from a former deputy
The Council also reviewed House’s response to criticism. According to the Busselton Pride Alliance, which led the protests against the prize at House, the former MP attacked the organization in a local newspaper, calling them “wicked, vindictive and intolerant”. House claimed he was “targeted and vilified by savage accusations”.
Reiterating that these views were incompatible with his values, the Vice-Chancellor added: “We are proud to be an inclusive community that actively supports equality and diversity. This decision reflects the Council’s determination to ensure that all staff and students, including members of the LGBTIQ + community, feel valued and respected.
BPA spokesperson Clare Paine praised the University’s decision. “Although ECU made the right decision, it is disappointing to have come to this,” Paine said in a statement.
“We wrote to Mr. House in May to ask if his perspective has changed over the years and if he now recognizes the harm caused by homophobia and would apologize for his contribution to that harm,” he said. revealed Paine.
BPA said House had not responded in a way “that recognizes this and does not clarify whether his views have changed over the years.” Paine further urged the ECU to review its honorary awards system and involve LGBTQI + students and the University’s staff network in such decisions.
A story of homophobia
House was a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia between 1987 and 2017. In 2019, the Australian government awarded him the Order of Australia.
The ECU said it awarded the honorary doctorate to House in February 2021 for his “30-year contribution to public life as an MP and service to the South West community.”
BPA listed House’s anti-LGBTQI story, which included his “vote to jail all gay men up to age 14, mistaking homosexuality for fear of incest on school programs for LGBTQI + youth,” Opposing laws on equal opportunities for LGBTQI people in employment and housing, opposing the fair treatment of same-sex couples for IVF and adoption, claiming that homosexuality ‘doesn’t’ is not normal and never will be, ”claiming that gay law reform was“ a threat to heterosexual families, ”claiming that children are damaged if they are raised in same-sex relationships and saying,“ just because ‘a lesbian puts on a dildo, that will never make her a father’.
House had denied he was “homophobic” and claimed in a letter to a local newspaper that his “comments in a parliamentary debate over 30 years ago belonged to another era.”
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