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Policy implications of gay men's workplace experiences: public service employees in Australia's capital, Canberra

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In 2008, changes in Australian federal legislation commenced the removal of workplace policies that historically discriminated against non-heterosexual employees. Academic research, however, reveals that much workplace discrimination is covert. To examine perceptions of covert workplace discrimination, experiences of gay men employed in the public service in the Australian Capital Territory in Canberra were investigated using semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Qualitative thematic analysis revealed a range of workplace experiences by gay male employees including perceived positive cultural change and continued sexuality-based discrimination. Participants’ workplace experiences included perceived general acceptance of homosexuality as well as workplace cliques and discrimination in specific instances. These perceptions occurred despite official changes in workplace legislation and the unanimous existence of employment opportunity, anti-discrimination and/or anti-bullying or harassment policies. This research advocates the need to prioritise identifying, managing and reviewing existing workplace policies and practices that fail to include covert sexuality-based discrimination as a means to improve workplace dynamics for all employees, thereby reducing social inequality.
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Keywords: discrimination; employment; gay men; harassment policies; homosexuality; public service; social inequality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Humanities and Social Sciences,Charles Sturt University, Boorooma Street Locked Bag 678Wagga WaggaNSW2678, Australia

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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