A couple that have been together for 45 years were not allowed to see each other after one of them was in hospital after surgery

Older LGBTI people living in South Australia still face ongoing discrimination but a historic project might change all of that.

The state’s Rainbow Advocacy Alliance will work with South Australia’s Council of the Ageing on the year-long project to help older LGBTI people.

The project’s objective is to ‘engage and empower’ older LGBTI people by raising visibility, public policy recommendations and identity problems.

Long time LGBTI activist Desmond Ford will run the program which he said would give ‘much needed visibility’ to older people.

Couple Desmond Rutherford, 72, and Erwin Robins, 65 have faced discrimination their whole lives. They welcomed the announcement. The men have been together for 45 years.

‘It is very difficult,’ Rutherford told Adelaide Now.

‘You still have the rednecks out there.’

Recently Robins was denied entry to Rutherford’s room after he had surgery at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

This was despite having a medical power of attorney for Rutherford.

‘He was threatened with removal by security,’ Rutherford said.

The men said they were worried about discrimination they might face if they have to enter aged care facilities. But they the new project to empower older LGBTI people was welcomed and needed.

‘We fight severely for the opportunity and the ability to choose,’ Rutherford said.

The project would help aged services reflect South Australia’s diversity, according to SA Rainbow Advocacy Alliance chair Andrew Birtwistle-Smith.

‘This project will ensure that there is a strong voice in all policy and service development for older people in SA, including through the advocacy and representation,’ he said.