Partnership against bigotry in aged care

Geoff has been campaigning for years to have the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people recognised across all facets of society.

Today, the 79-year-old is a poster child for older gay people and is a member for Gay Rights in Ageing group (GRAI).

The group has just formed an historic partnership with Manning community care organisation Southcare to help end discrimination against gay and lesbian people in aged care facilities.�

�GRAI is important because many older gay people have never come out as they are in an age group who have a greater homophobic sense,� Geoff said.

�People going into these kinds of situations tend to feel isolated themselves, but fortunately a recent change to Federal law laid down that aged care facilities cannot discriminate against older gay and lesbian people,� he said.

Geoff said he first discovered he was attracted to males at an early age and was fortunate to have the support of his family.

�I lived for the first 40 years of my life until I came out, which was in the late 1970s,� Geoff said.

�I came out to my family when I started a relationship and sent them a letter while they were away to tell them.

Their response was that it was fine by them and my brothers and sisters were fine about it too.

�My father and step-mother were very accepting.

What has life been like for Geoff since he came out.

Since Geoff first came out as openly gay in the 1970s, society�s attitude towards gay people has changed.

�I was a member of Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) which was important because when we set up the movement homosexuality was still illegal and you could face 14 years in jail if you were caught,� Geoff said.

�So our immediate focus was on law reform, but it was not until 2002 that the government went through legislation and removed all kinds of discriminatory laws that people did not even think about.

�It created a situation where gay and lesbian people are the same as any de facto couple.

�That took 30 years to achieve and even now with the question of adoption, some people think �oh gay people adopting children, oh goodness no!� he said.

Geoff has been a victim of discrimination and has seen friends hurt by homophobia.

�I was attacked in an attempted gay bashing in 1969 while cruising,� Geoff said.

�A young guy picked me up and wanted me to meet someone on the foreshore in Nedlands and when I got there he was with mates and they attacked me and I lay down on the sand and started yelling and threw sand and me and left.

�A mate of mine was badly bashed and fortunately someone took down the number plate and the villains were caught and jailed in the 1970s,� he said.

Geoff said it was not just random strangers he had to be wary of.

�There was also a certain amount of police provocation in the 60s and 70s,� he said.

�The police would hang around the beats and would pretend to be gay and if anyone approached them they would arrest them for disorderly behaviour or whatever charge they could get them on.�

�Now thankfully we have the backing of numerous people in society who want to take a stand against homophobia.

�We now have the boss of SBS who is openly gay, the boss of Qantas and politicians who are out publicly like Liberal Senator Dean Smith and nobody gives a damn,� Geoff said.

�It�s great and in time it will fade away about who is same sex attracted because there are so many people in so many areas who are coming out publicly� he said.

Pic 438494 Geoff Davis discusses issues affecting older gay people with GRAI board member Conrad Liveris�