17. October 2021

Defence emails reveal staff shame at Dutton’s ‘tone-deaf’ IDAHOBIT morning tea ban


Defence emails reveal staff shame at Dutton’s ‘tone-deaf’ IDAHOBIT morning tea ban

Officials within the Department of Defence advised their superiors they had been left distressed and mystified by Peter Dutton’s ban of particular morning teas to mark an annual day in assist of LGBTQI colleagues, with one staff member saying it had cemented their choice to stop.

Defence staff spoke out about feeling “immediate disappointment and shame” and of being “slightly disturbed” by the “tone deaf” choice to cease the occasions celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Emails reveal staff felt shame after Defence Minister Peter Dutton banned IDAHOBIT celebrations, claiming “we are not pursuing a woke agenda”.

Emails reveal staff felt shame after Defence Minister Peter Dutton banned IDAHOBIT celebrations, claiming “we are not pursuing a woke agenda”.Credit:

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in May revealed that the Defence Minister had ordered his department and serving military personnel to cease occasions with “particular clothes in celebration” after Defence held morning teas the place staff wore rainbow clothes to mark IDAHOBIT.

Mr Dutton advised Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell and secretary Greg Moriarty to challenge a notice ending such occasions, saying he would by no means tolerate discrimination however wouldn’t pursue a “woke agenda” both.

Internal emails, obtained underneath freedom of data legal guidelines, reveal some Defence officers had been deeply offended by the order and raised considerations about how it will harm morale. Only complaints to senior Defence leaders and human assets had been included within the request and responses had been redacted partly.

One senior official advised one other that considered one of her staff members was “incredibly distressed by this message”.

“I was wondering if you might be able to outline what this means for the LBTQI community and the Defence approach to inclusion,” she wrote.

Another Defence official mentioned they had been “slightly disturbed” by the order and needed to speak to somebody to “understand what is the motivation and message that is being conveyed”.

A 3rd mentioned they felt “immediate disappointment and shame” and the order “further concretes my decision to leave Defence”. The particular person mentioned it was a “terrible reaction that is damaging on many levels”.

“Firstly to the LGBTIQ+ community and in particular members of Defence it must have been horrible to have a day that is meant to promote inclusivity and compassion singled out and deemed unnecessary,” the e-mail learn.

“In terms of Defence’s reputation I think it is a horrible reflection and not in keeping with the Defence values. It is tone deaf to current issues within not only the Defence community but the broader Australian community.”

The similar worker mentioned that Defence might have the “odd morning tea or gathering to celebrate or bring light” to plenty of causes with out jeopardising the “mission to protect Australia’s national security interests”.

“I would ask for some clarification that if we are to cease these events, will the same occur for International Women’s Day, ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day and Harmony Day.”

In a letter to General Campbell and Mr Moriarty in June, the Community and Public Sector Union mentioned the order and Mr Dutton’s feedback had been “hurtful to many Defence LGBTI+ employees and their many allies”.


“LGBTI+ employees have been told before that their existence will undermine military “morale” and distract and even threaten nationwide safety,” the letter mentioned. “It was then and is today a homophobic argument that has no basis in fact. Yet this view appears to be reappearing at the highest levels in Defence.”

In response, Mr Moriarty and General Campbell didn’t immediately tackle the union’s considerations in regards to the order, however mentioned Defence was an “inclusive organisation that does not tolerate discrimination”.

“Defence’s primary mission is to defend Australia and its national interests. Having a diverse workforce that is supported by an inclusive culture is critical to achieving this mission,” their letter, which was seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, learn.

The unique order marked a backflip by Defence’s management, which had earlier despatched a notice to staff urging them to mark IDAHOBIT by carrying rainbow clothes and ally pins to morning tea occasions.

“Defence ADF and APS employees are encouraged to acknowledge IDAHOBIT in a COVID-safe manner,” the notice mentioned. “Examples for activity include hosting morning teas, encouraging discussions regarding the importance of IDAHOBIT, raising awareness of LGBTI rights and wearing visible rainbow clothing or ally pins.”


The purpose was to point out “support for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) colleagues, friends and family by standing against prejudice and discrimination, and demonstrating inclusion”.

Asked for remark, a spokesperson for Defence mentioned it was “continually taking steps to enhance policy to support all members of the Defence community and supports a number of days of significance that relate to national commemorations, culture, workforce and families”.

“Defence is committed to building a capable and diverse workforce that reflects the community we serve,” the spokesperson mentioned.

The Morning Edition publication is our information to the day’s most necessary and fascinating tales, evaluation and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in Politics


Joanna Taylor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About us

SANJHI AWAAZ is Punjabi radio station based in Melbourne (Australia) catering for all age groups of the Punjabi and Hindi speaking communities in the Melbourne VIC (AUS) and across the world online.