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News: World

Wed 13 Apr, 2011
By Sam Bristowe

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Australian military embroiled in gay-hate claims

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Australia's Defence Force was embroiled in another scandal Wednesday after claims it failed to discipline dozens of personnel allegedly linked to an online gay-hate campaign.

The Sydney Morning Herald said the military received a complaint eight months ago about a Facebook site created to expose and intimidate homosexuals

"This page has been created to inform current and past serving members of the ADF who is biting the pillow," the page reportedly said.

"I have had other emails from ADF members reporting their suspicions, (but) only confirmed cases of homosexuality will be displayed on this page."

The page, which has since been taken down, allegedly had links to violent and pornographic videos on YouTube, with dozens of ADF members signing on as "friends".

The newspaper said key ADF personnel were aware of the complaint but no one had been disciplined.

One of those targeted was Major Paul Morgan, an army psychologist who served in Iraq. He was named on the Facebook page for having made a "filthy lifestyle decision".

"It is very hard being gay in this organisation," he told the Herald.
"I have sacrificed my whole adult life to the army and the inaction in this case is soul-destroying."

The ADF acknowledged it received a complaint about the website eight months ago, and claimed investigations were continuing.

"Defence was made aware of certain 'anti-gay' social media activities in August 2010," it said in comments emailed to AFP.

"The material which Defence was made aware of does not reflect Defence?s official position, and is not representative of the behaviour and thoughts of the majority of Defence personnel.

"The attitudes and behaviours described are contrary to everything that the Australian Defence Force stands for and has achieved in welcoming and supporting diversity across the organisation."

The ADF has allowed personnel who are gay or lesbian to serve openly since 1992 and in 2005 recognised same-sex interdependent relationships.

The latest claims come after the military announced a series of reviews this week into the treatment of women sparked by a sex scandal involving a young female cadet at an elite military academy.

The woman went to the media after a male recruit allegedly filmed himself having sex with her and broadcast it via Skype to his friends.

The publicity triggered other complaints about sexual misconduct stretching back decades, with more allegations emerging Wednesday.

Mark Drummond was among the first intake of cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy 25 years ago and lectured there again in the 1990s.

He told ABC radio of gang rapes and other degradation.

"You know, there was a practice called 'woofering' where a male cadet or midshipman had genitals sucked into a vacuum cleaner nozzle," he said.

"I mean, this was a common enough practice for there to be a perceived need by the formal military hierarchy within the Academy to issue directives that went down through the cadet hierarchy verbally."

Australia's military has gained an unwanted reputation for having a drinking and sexist culture, underscored in a recent 400-page report about incidents on the supply ship HMAS Success in 2009.

The report examined allegations of a "predatory culture" and drunken misconduct, including claims that sailors kept a list known as "The Ledger" which put dollar values on sexual conquests with female colleagues.

Source: AFP


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