Pride alliance plansHouse ECU protest

Taylar AmoniniBusselton Dunsborough Times
Barry House.
Camera IconBarry House. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

Protest rallies are being planned for the Bunbury Edith Cowan University campus next month as the LGBTQI community has denounced a decision to honour a doctorate awarded to former MP Barry House.

The Bunbury protest will align with rallies on the university’s metropolitan campuses timed for orientation week in response to the university refusing to rescind an honorary doctorate awarded to the former Liberal South West MLC.

Busselton Pride Alliance, which first called out the university for awarding the honorary doctorate, claims Mr House has a long history of homophobia which doesn’t align with the university’s values and ethos.

BPA spokeswoman Clare Paine said in addition to the university making the “wrong decision” with the award, Mr House had breached his agreement with the university and it needed a review once again.

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“Following criticism of this award due to Mr House’s parliamentary record being at odds with ECU’s policies on equality and LGBTI inclusion, the university tried retrospectively to cover its tracks by claiming Mr House has given it ‘an assurance’ he will now uphold the university’s values,” she said.

“These values include integrity, respect, rational inquiry and personal excellence.

“However, less than two days later Mr House breached this agreement with his extraordinary comments in the local paper.

“Mr House’s reaction to this has been to attack BPA, calling us ‘the most nasty, intolerant and vindictive group in the community’.”

Last month Mr House penned a Letter to the Busselton Dunsborough Times which said he was subject to “wild accusations” and the LGBTQI+ organisation was “targeting and vilifying” him and others who disagreed with the group.

Having again written to the university’s vice-chancellor, the group has once again called for the decision to award Mr House with an honorary doctorate to be reviewed.

ECU vice-chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said the university acknowledged Mr House’s public service through the award, but did not support “public criticism” of community members raising awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues.

“We pride ourselves on being a diverse and inclusive community, and reject all forms of discrimination,” he said.

“Universities, by their nature, are places of learning and respectful free speech.

“We will always encourage our students to express their views and to stand up for the principles and values they believe in.”

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