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An 84-year-old who survived conversion therapy was banned from volunteering at a retirement community because of her sexuality

Reiss Smith October 10, 2019

Malloy, 84, said she was banned from visiting residents at an aged care facility. (PH)

An Australian woman was left “devastated” after being told she was no longer allowed to visit residents at an aged care facility on account of her sexuality.

The 84-year-old, known only as Malloy, said that she was “horrified” when she was reprimanded by the care facility where she had been a regular volunteer visitor since her partner of 22 years passed away.

She received a letter which stated there had been “a number of concerns” from residents, which a nurse manager explained in a subsequent meeting were related to her being a lesbian.

“She said that I was not allowed to talk about my sexuality with the residents,” Malloy told the Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on Thursday (October 10).

Lesbian volunteer ‘humiliated’ by aged care staff

At the meeting, Malloy said she was made to feel “uncomfortable” and “humiliated” by the “bullying” manager, who said that she could only continue to see a small handful of residents

“I was devastated to be told that I was no longer allowed to visit all my usual residents and to hear that they had been complaining about me,” she continued.

Malloy said that while she didn’t hide her sexuality, it was not “something she would actively go and speak to residents about.”

“I would carry a rainbow lanyard and would speak to staff about it if they asked me. I do not think [residents] would ever have known,” she continued.

It was clear she had a homophobic bias towards me.

Malloy said that she didn’t believe the claim that residents had made complaints about her.

She recalled the nurse manager telling another professional: “We don’t have people like that here, and people don’t want to hear about things like that.”

“It was clear she had a homophobic bias towards me,” she added.

84-year-old survived conversion therapy

Malloy said that the ordeal brought back traumatic memories from her past.

The commission heard that as a teenager, Malloy had been attacked by her mother after she was discovered in her bedroom with a girlfriend, while her father had called her insulting names for years.

In 1960, at the age of 25, she suffered a breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

“I was told that if I ever went back to being a practising lesbian, God would not love me,” she recalled.

“My psychiatrist tried various types of conversion therapy on me including electroconvulsive therapy and LSD treatment.”

Malloy credit an aged care rights advocate with helping her to fight this discrimination.

She is now herself an advocate for LGBT+ people in aged care, and continues to volunteer her time visiting residents at the facility next to her own retirement village.

“I experienced a lot of discrimination when I was younger and these events brought back all of those negative feelings,” she said.

“I think that LGBTQI people should be treated with respect and people should be able to be themselves without having to hide their sexual orientation.”

More: aged care, Australia

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