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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.



This oppression takes many forms. Revelation of one's gayness can lead to loss of employment, housing, children and friends and leaves one vulnerable to expressions of open hostility. In housing, for example, section 146 of the present law, which provides penalties of up to ten years imprisonment for keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts, can be used by landlords to refuse accomodation to known or suspected homosexuals.

In employment, too, lesbians face very real problems. Because we cannot fall back on husbands for financial support, we are very dependent on our jobs. The lesbian in the workforce lives in constant fear of being fired or refused promotion simply because of her lesbianism. Many attempt to live a double life - but the fear of exposure is always present.

This fear is particularly present if the lesbian's work involves contact with children. Most people still think that homosexuals should be kept away from children, despite the fact that criminal statistics clearly show that young girls who are seduced or raped are invariably victimised by men. This fear was clearly illustrated on a Radio Windy talkback show during Wellington's Gay Pride Week. The most hostile callers rang in reply to the information that Gay Liberation members had spoken to several sixth form liberal studies groups.

This leads us to another major area of discrimination - custody of children. Some lesbians would like to have children but are debarred by the adoption laws and the refusal of artificial insemination. Many others marry because of societal pressure and/or fear or because they only discover their lesbianism after marriage. These lesbians automatically lose custody of their children if their gayness is revealed in the divorce court. The assumption is that if a woman is a lesbian, she is automatically a bad mother who will have a corrupting influence on her children. Some lesbians voluntarily give up their children because they themselves have been brainwashed by this myth.

Lesbian couples are also deprived of the benefits (tax concessions, mortgage finance etc) available to heterosexual couples. They are only treated differently when it is to their disadvantage, however. This year the National Government deprived many solo mothers of the Domestic Purposes Benefit because they were living in de facto relationships. For this purpose alone, lesbian couples are treated on an "equal" basis with heterosexual couples and many lesbian mothers have been deprived of their source of income.