Media Release

11 February 2022

Positive Life is pleased to hear the contentious Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 has been deferred, but for now the bill remains unchanged. We hold grave concerns that it has already had an impact on people’s lives and safety.

“A large proportion of our community who are living with and affected by HIV are gay men,” said Andrew Heslop, Positive Life Senior Health Promotion and Peer Navigation Manager. “Not only have many of these men lived through times of extreme persecution based on their sexual orientation, but they remember the intimidation and harassment they experienced as school students in the most formative years of their lives.”

“Federal legislation must protect all people equally, regardless of who we are, whom we love or what we believe,” said Jane Costello, Positive Life CEO.

“It is unconscionable that hard-won protections particularly for LGBTQ+ people are about to undermined at the highest legislative level, placing a large section of our community at risk of harmful and discriminatory actions and statements, compromising our access to safe, inclusive public spaces, schools, workplaces and judgement-free health care,” said Ms Costello.

“Research has shown that non-heterosexual people experience up to two times as much abuse, violence, prejudice and discrimination than their heterosexual counterparts, which fuels a range of health inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+ people,” said Mr Heslop. “Findings from the 2021 Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention show that gay, queer and bisexual men, and gender diverse people in particular experience higher levels of depression, anxiety, self-harming and suicidal ideation,” he said.

“Religious freedom in Australia is a liberating right,” said Robert Agati, Positive Life President. “I celebrate the diversity of Australian culture which welcomes all faiths and beliefs, however to turn that freedom into a protected right for a healthcare provider to tell me that my HIV is a punishment from God is reprehensible and horrifying.”

Jane Costello, CEO – (02) 8357 8386 or email

Positive Life NSW is the voice of all people living with HIV in NSW since 1988. We are the largest peer-led and run representative body of all people living with HIV in Australia based in NSW. We make a significant contribution to and positive impact across the spectrum of health and social issues on behalf of all people living with HIV in collaboration with HIV specialist and mainstream services to improve the health and quality of life of all people living with HIV in NSW. We do this through evidence based health promotion, research, policy advice and peer support.

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