As a positive bi-sexual man who has been married and had boyfriends at various times in my life I taken an interest in the Gay Marriage discussion. First of all I wish to discuss the issues of discrimination and then provide my point of view and a link to help with creating change.
What is discrimination?
I am going to spend a while writing about discrimination. The definition of "discrimination" by www.dictionary.com is:
1.an act or instance of discriminating.
2.treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favour of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
3. the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment: She chose the colours with great discrimination.
4. Archaic . something that serves to differentiate.
I have been HIV+ for 24 years this year. I was diagnosed when I was 16 years old. As a 16 year old I was known in the gay community in the town where I lived. The gay men where extremely friendly towards me. Once my boyfriend came into the scene and people (in the gay community) knew he had AIDS I was treated quite differently. There were suppositions that I was also infected with HIV.
My working life has been as a Registered Nurse and an adult educator. My specialty as a Registered Nurse as intensive care, emergency and remote area nursing. My young family and I moved to the NSW outback. I felt at home apart from some continual lateral violence (workplace bullying) from a male nurse who has a long history in the town. He had a sense of entitlement. I developed AIDS in 2003 when I was working as a Registered Nurse in the outback of NSW. I had to take time off work to attend to my health needs. When I attempted to negotiate my return to work I was aggressively discriminated by the Doctor in our health service. His attitude was that NO HIV+ NURSES SHOULD WORK IN ANY CAPACITY THAT INVOLVES PATIENT CONTACT.
I had a lot of support from nurse colleagues of mine. I worked regularly with one specific Enrolled Nurse. As a team we "rocked". Whatever came into the emergency department we were able to deal with as a team. An example of our teamwork was when I needed to suture (sew up a wound) a patient; she would know what type/size of sterile gloves I needed. She also knew to ask was type of local anaesthetic and suture material I required. The irony of the time I worked with this Enrolled Nurse is in a later conversation she said to me that she had decided that she would NEVER do her training to become a Registered Nurse because she felt that she didn't ever want to have the significant responsibility that I had.
That Doctor and the Area Health Service effectively stalled my nursing career. In my career I had been described as being compassionate, empathetic, extremely knowledgeable and being highly competent in the technical aspects of emergency and intensive care. In the above case of discrimination I was subject to what is called negative discrimination. It benefited absolutely no one.
Some facts about HIV
There are between 20,000 and 22,000 people living with HIV in Australia. The peak year of the highest rate of new infections in Australia was 1987. I was infected one year later in 1988. There are an estimated 34 million people living with HIV worldwide.
What is the root cause of discrimination
From an academic view (from my university studies) it is my impression that discrimination comes from an aspect of the perpetrator not having adequate knowledge of the issues and this then leads to fear and resultant negative actions. The causes are multifaceted and the causes are not as simple as what I just described.
Gay marriage rights debate has been extensive throughout our country. In this post I'm not going to go into any real detail of the issues. There is one point to ponder; some people seem happy to have legalised civil unions between two gay people. The issue with the concept of Civil Unions is that by allowing such a thing is inherently discriminatory.
The reason that it is discriminatory is gay people are not permitted to legally marry. (So they are given differing treatment). So because they are not allowed to marry they are subject to "treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in “favour” of or “against" as per the definition of discrimination by www.dictionary.com
I have seen first hand the issues of not being able to enforce the same rights of same sex partners as heterosexual couples when I worked as a Registered Nurse. There were times where a gay partner of an ill person was not legally able to make healthcare related decisions or be informed on the condition of their partner.
I have been discriminated because:
- I am of Aboriginal descent
- I am bisexual (discriminated by heterosexuals and homosexuals)
- I have HIV
- I have some mental health issues related to HIV
- I am of a very high intelligence
I continue to be subjected to the most vile discrimination from my ex-brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have discriminated against me for being HIV+, having an education (they don't), solid work history (they don’t) my extremely well adjusted and loving daughters, which is such a contrast to them. I guess the other thing that irks them is I have saved many lives during my career as a Registered Nurse and paramedic.
As a parting comment I hope people understand that we all have been discriminated in one way or another. We can stand united as being valuable human beings.
The following link details how we can help with creating a change in same sex marriage.