‘GENUINE DIVERSITY IS ESSENTIAL FOR CHANGE’
Award-winning TV presenter, broadcaster, documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist Patrick Abboud works tirelessly to report on discrimination against LGBTQI communities around the world, challenging stereotypes to stamp out homophobia
Tell us about the work you’ve done in the past 12 months. I’ve brought to light the heartbreaking stories of youth at risk of harm in Australia’s Muslim LGBTQI communities, exposed discrimination against transgender people in the Australian Defence Force and homophobia in the NSW Police force, and investigated unsolved gay hate crimes. I’ve volunteered for the Marriage Equality campaign, assisting with unique campaign strategy to reach multicultural and regional communities. I’m passionate about creating opportunities for young LGBTQI people from ethnic communities to be more visible, to feel safe and to be empowered to have their say. It’s hard for many culturally diverse communities as we don’t see LGBTQI people as much as we should across the wider media landscape. I’m working to change that, and am also developing an advocacy and education program to take to Arab Council Australia to better support non-English speaking parents of LGBTQI kids coming out. We need to work a lot more closely, one-on-one, with families.
Why is that so important to you? My parents are Arabs and took it badly when I came out. Mum was wailing like she was at a funeral and Dad just shut down; if I walked into a room, he’d walk out. It hasn’t been very easy but it’s an ongoing journey with my family and over the past few years we have come so far. I’m proud of them and lucky to have them – they’re incredibly supportive now and are my rock. At the end of the day, I am who I am because of the beauty and richness of my cultural background and I’m so proud of that, but in more extreme parts of the Arab world it is still illegal to be gay. Plus, in a number of Muslim majority nations, homosexuality is still a crime that’s punishable by imprisonment – and, in some cases, the death penalty. There is still so much work that needs to be done.