IDAHOBIT Day 2024 Interview Questions – Tim Zahara

Today is IDAHOBIT – the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.

IDAHOBIT celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide and raises awareness for the ongoing efforts still needed to combat discrimination.

To mark the 33rd anniversary since the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a disease, we sat down with Tim Zahara, Special Counsel at Hamilton Locke, to talk about the importance of IDAHOBIT and how we can all contribute to creating a more inclusive world.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the significance of IDAHOBIT Day to you personally?

IDAHOBIT Day is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, IDAHOBIT Day is an opportunity to reflect on both how far our community has come during my lifetime, as well as the challenges we still face.

IDAHOBIT Day marks the anniversary of the day on which the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases and related Health Problems, which occurred thirty-three years ago today. It’s crazy to think that during my lifetime my sexuality was formally classified as a mental illness (let alone that homosexual acts were not decriminalised throughout Australia until 1994!).

Both globally and throughout Australia, more work needs to be done to combat discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community. By way of example, a Sydney council recently resolved to ban books relating to LGBT parents from its libraries.

Ultimately, days like IDAHOBIT Day are an opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies to come together, raise awareness for the work that still needs to be done, celebrate our successes, and stand proud for who we are and what we have achieved.

2. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Hamilton Locke?

I am a Special Counsel in Hamilton Locke’s Workplace and Employment team.

I initially started at Hamilton Locke in Sydney in 2020, then I left the firm briefly to dabble in working for the Federal Government. I ended up coming back in 2022, and last year I moved to the Brisbane office.

My move to Brisbane brought me closer to my family on the Sunshine Coast, including my sister who (incredibly generously) offered to act as a surrogate for me and my husband, Trisan, enabling us to achieve our dream of starting a family. On 5 April this year, our son Navy was born and we feel like the luckiest people in the world to have him in our lives.

I am grateful for the support of my colleagues, both in Sydney and Brisbane, who couldn’t have been more supportive of my journey to parenthood. I also feel very fortunate that the Hamilton Locke parental leave policy is inclusive of surrogacy, and will enable me to take a period of paid primary carer’s leave at the end of this year when my husband returns back to work.

3. What will the HPX Group be doing to celebrate IDAHOBIT Day in 2024 and how do you personally intend celebrating the day?

The LGBTQIA+ D&I Sub-committee of the HPX Group as a whole is hosting some fun events – our various offices will be getting creative with beads from The Rainbow Shoelace Project (which was started in Broken Hill by Abbie Jane and her friend Max Dawnn who help distribute Pride coloured beads to wear on your shoelaces as means of making your support for members of the LGBTQIA+ community visible in a fun, colourful way) and we will be hosting a Drag Bingo event in our Sydney office for a night of glitter, glamour and glorious prizes.

As I have a 6-week old at home, my IDAHOBIT Day will be a little quieter than previous years (Drag Bingo in Sydney last year was a blast!), but I hope everyone has an opportunity to have fun and celebrate.

4. As a recent parent yourself, what kind of world do you wish to see for the next generation?

There was a study done by Yale School of Public Health in 2019 – the ‘Global Closet’ study – which found that the vast majority of the world’s sexual minority population — an estimated 83% of those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual — keep their orientation hidden from all or most of the people in their lives. Concealing one’s sexual orientation can lead to significant mental and physical health issues, increased healthcare costs and a dampening of the public visibility necessary for advancing equal rights.

I have seen the toll that it takes on people who cannot be their whole selves at work, or amongst their family and friends, and I look forward to a future where everyone is able to proudly be themselves, free from shame and external judgement and pressures.

The more diversity that we can cultivate, embrace and encourage, the better off the world will be in the future.

5. Can you offer any advice on being an ally and on challenging phobias to members of the LGBTQIA+ community?

Don’t underestimate the impact that your supportive words might have. When you speak out in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, you never know who may be listening and what it might mean to them.

Also, if your mates or colleagues are making off-colour jokes or comments about the LGBTQIA+ community, call them out on it (whether in private or in public). It’s not funny to make jokes along the lines of “I don’t even know what all of the letters (LGBTQIA+) stand for these days.” Behind each letter there are real people who will often have struggled to accept and understand their own identity. It doesn’t take much to be a person who validates, rather than invalidates, others’ experiences and identities, even if you don’t fully understand.

KEY CONTACTS

Special Counsel