Pronia through SKEPSI Mental Health Project provides information, support, education, advocacy, counselling and referral service to specialist services for people with various sexual orientations and their families who may be vulnerable, often socially isolated and stigmatised from society via homophobia and discrimination.

Homosexuality is legal in Australia since 1981, and more than 10,000 children are raised in same-sex families. On 1 August 2013, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was changed to include sexual orientation, gender and sex.

Many individuals and same-sex couples and families are experiencing challenging situations due to homophobia, discrimination, threats and issues with family members and relatives. Six out of 10 LGBTIQA+ (Lesbians, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex, queer, asexual/allies+) individuals experience homophobic violence, such as swearing, jokes, ridicule and put downs. Two in 10 are physically abused, with 80 per cent of abuse and violence due to homophobia taking place among school-aged youth.

LGBTIQA+ people have three times higher chances of experiencing depression and other mental illnesses than the wider population due to the impact of discrimination and homophobia. Thirty four per cent of LGBTIQA+ individuals hide their sexual identity or gender when accessing services, out of fear of discrimination and rejection or mockery; 42 per cent lie when receiving social services and 39 per cent do not disclose their sexual orientation at their workplace.

This marginalisation and shame from the stigma of internalised homophobia directly affects the mental health of the person.

When someone is pressured to live a secret life, to not show or celebrate their relationships or families publicly etc. then problems arise, which often push the person toward risky behaviours such as alcohol or drug abuse etc.

Pronia’s SKEPSI program advocates for the wellbeing and needs of the Greek LGBTIQA+ individuals and their families in Australia. Pronia through the collaboration with Greek & Gay support network, Queerspace and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, invites the Greek community to help in the decrease of homophobia and discrimination among us through appropriate education and support from Victoria Police to reduce crime and unlawful behaviours.

If you would like to find out what the law says on discrimination and homophobia, homosexuality and same-sex families and receive information, support, advocacy and referral to specialised services for the improvement of well-being, mental health and relationships, you are invited to attend Pronia’s information session at Clayton Community Centre, Monash Youth & Family Services Room, 9-15 Cooke Street, Clayton, VIC on Wednesday 10 October, 10.30 am to noon.

*Adonis Maglis is a Pronia Community Education Officer .