Fred Hollows’ outstanding work in the Aboriginal community is undeniable – his battle against trachoma – a third world eye disease that still exists in Australia – was the stuff of legends.
Hollows was also one of the first volunteer doctors for the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, and is perhaps the most revered non-Aboriginal Australian among Aboriginal people today.
With this in mind, The Fred Hollows Foundation has been leading a push to have Fred immortalized on the five dollar note. You can read more about the campaign ‘Fred on the Fiver’ here.
But the debate has taken a very unexpected twist.
A story published on the Gay News Network (GNN) this week reveals that at the height of the HIV epidemic in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hollows expressed public views that today would be… well, pretty shocking.
GNN reports: “In an article published in The Canberra Times in 1992, after backlash from the gay community over his comments, Hollows continued to stand by his views. The article states: ‘The eye specialist said on Monday the gay community had “hijacked” Australia’s AIDS policy and had promoted AIDS as affecting everyone, when it was basically a homosexual problem in Australia.
‘He said many AIDS-infected homosexuals were spreading the deadly virus recklessly and might have to be quarantined to prevent infection getting into vulnerable rural Aboriginal communities and wiping them out.’
The paper quoted Hollows as saying:
“I know of the devastation of AIDS in Africa and I don’t want that to happen to Aboriginal people in Australia. Options previously never discussed must now be discussed.”
New Matilda’s very interested in the views of our readers on this issue: Do you think Fred Hollows should be included on the five dollar note. Please post your comments below. Or join the discussion on our Facebook page here. New Matilda tweets here.
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