Conference raises visibility of challenges for queer Indigenous community

20 July 2018
Examining the current state and future challenges of queer studies
The Queer(y)ing Justice in the Global South conference brought together researchers, community members, and organisations working at the intersections of sexuality, gender diversity and justice.
Dameyon Bonson

Keynote speaker Dameyon Bonson from Black Rainbow

Held at the Charles Perkins Centre at University of Sydney during NAIDOC week, the 3-day conference attracted more than 50 delegates each day from Australian academia, policy and practice in addition to delegates from Taiwan, China, India, Indonesia and Argentina.

Despite recent gains in social, criminal and legal justice campaigns for sexuality and gender diverse people in many jurisdictions, notably in Australia with the passing of same-sex marriage last year, Indigenous people, culturally diverse people and people seeking safety have not always benefited from these gains.

The conference, which was co-convened by the Sydney Institute of Criminology, the Crime and Justice Research Centre (QUT), the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies (UTAS) and the School of Social Sciences and Psychology (WSU), provided an opportunity to raise visibility of those within the LGBTIQ+ community who are the most in need of support.

Dameyon Bonson, founder of Indigenous LGBTIQ+ suicide prevention organisation Black Rainbow, an Indigenous owned and operated not-for-profit social enterprise, highlighted the critical issues facing LGBTIQ+ Indigenous communities. He emphasised homophobia as a central concern, including within Indigenous health, and that it is a barrier to effectively addressing issues faced by the community. He also noted the lack of visibility and awareness within government on LGBTIQ+ Indigenous issues, and stressed the importance of crowdfunding to make a positive impact.

Conference panel

Youth panel speaking at the conference

 “The conference highlighted the importance of bringing together a range of practitioners from health and social work organisations and NGOs as well as academics, to get a more in-depth understanding of the problems that LGBTIQ+ communities are facing, particularly Indigenous ones,” said Justin Ellis from the Sydney Institute of Criminology.

“Jace Valcore from the University of Houston Downtown spoke about the need to adopt a do no harm approach to policy interventions while prioritising research into identifying what the existing harms are.

"We are now looking at producing an edited collection, along with a special edition of a journal from the conference that will hopefully go some way to realising these objectives.”

Queer(y)ing Justice in the Global South is the ninth in a series of global conferences organised by the Queering Paradigms network. Learn more about the conference, delegates and the conversation on Twitter #queercrim.