Nov 29, 2021

Elderly gay couple decide to leave their Toowoomba home after years of abuse

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Bruce Gardiner, 71, and his husband Derek, recently told The Chronicle that the majority of abuse stemmed from one Toowoomba resident who began routinely hurling homophobic abuse at the couple from the moment that he learned the men were a gay couple. 

According to Mr Gardiner, the vile abuse and rumour spreading eventually escalated to a physical assault in October 2019 when the source of the homophobic abuse allegedly assaulted him.

It took police two years to charge the man with serious assault, a timeframe that Mr Gardiner believes indicates a level of gay prejudice from local police.

The alleged attacker was eventually issued with a caution, and police claim that the length of the investigation was a result of having two very different accounts of what occurred with very little corroborating evidence. 

“There is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest that the police had a bias against the complainant as a result of sexuality,” Assistant Commissioner of Queensland Police Services, Mike Condon, told The Chronicle.

“While the matter has taken some time to be finalised, based on the evidence available to the police, an adult caution was appropriate in the circumstances.”

Mr Condon continued, “The complaint was made more complex on the basis of differing versions of what took place. I have a strong view that everyone is equal, to be treated the same and with respect.”

Sadly, Mr Gardiner has grown accustomed to dealing with homophobic prejudice throughout the entirety of his life. 

“I am 71 years of age. Growing up as a gay man, for a start it was illegal, you have to pretend you were straight all the time,” Mr Gardiner said.

“If people had a suspicion that you were not straight, you’d be bashed.”

Mr Gardiner claims that the southern Queensland city of Toowoomba is not a gay-friendly environment, which has prompted his decision to sell up and move.

“I am being vocal about this because I am doing it for the young people coming through who don’t have a voice but who will experience similar things – I hope that the next generation gives people a fair go in life.”

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  1. I am a straight Toowoomba man in my 50s, but I sympathise with Mr Gardiner and his partner, for I too have copped homophobic abuse from people who might have suspected that I might be gay, simply because I choose to be alone.

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