‘We are not pursuing a woke agenda’: Dutton bans special morning teas at Defence after IDAHOBIT

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has ordered his department to stop pursuing a “woke agenda” after Defence held morning teas to mark IDAHOBIT – the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia – with some staff wearing rainbow clothing.

Mr Duton’s directive sparked Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell and Secretary Greg Moriarty on Friday to issue a departmental-wide note stating events where staff “are encouraged to wear particular clothes in celebration … should cease”.

Peter Dutton met soldiers in Townsville last month.Credit:ADF

This was a reference to the Department marking IDAHOBIT on May 17, when some staff arrived at work in “rainbow” clothing.

Mr Dutton, who has vowed to shake up his department and refocus on its core mission, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that “I’ve been very clear to the chiefs that I will not tolerate discrimination. But we are not pursuing a woke agenda”.

“Our task is to build up the morale in the Australian Defence Force and these woke agendas don’t help”.

The directive, signed by General Campbell and Mr Moriarty, stated: “Defence represents the people of Australia and must at all times be focused on our primary mission to protect Australia’s national security interests. We must not be putting effort into matters that distract from this”.

“To meet these important aims, changing language protocols and those events such as morning teas where personnel are encouraged to wear particular clothes in celebration … are not required and should cease.”

“We have made it clear to all Service Chiefs and Group Heads that combat and organisational capability is to be delivered through our well-developed training and education programs, exercises and operational experience, with respectful behaviours, underpinned by Defence values.”

In the original note promoting the morning teas on May 17, Defence said it wanted to demonstrate “its support for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) colleagues, friends and family by standing against prejudice and discrimination, and demonstrating inclusion”.

“Defence … employees are encouraged to acknowledge IDAHOBIT in a COVID-safe manner. 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.”

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