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11 May 2022
By Michael Scalzo
Sexual and gender-diverse groups in the Wimmera will celebrate an international day against bigotry next week and call for broader support of minority peoples.
Wimmera Pride Project treasurer Patrick Quaine said International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia, IDAHoBIT, on May 17, remained significant given comments from West Wimmera Shire Council mayor Bruce Meyer about sexual and gender-diverse people.
“The best example of why this international annual day remains so important is because of comments made on radio by the West Wimmera mayor. There are plenty of people saying those things not on the radio, without an apology, without realisation why those words were hurtful,” he said.
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West Wimmera Shire Council will fly the pride flag on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia next week.
Mr Quaine said a vast majority of people in the Wimmera had welcomed his partner and himself, however reaffirmed ‘rancid’ abuse was often hurled and threatening situations relevant.
“We need to show young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people they are not alone and that people in the community support them,” he said.
“It remains so important for allies and the community on days like IDAHoBIT to positively support young and diverse people. It should be a great day to focus on the positives and how welcoming most people in the Wimmera are.”
Mr Quaine applauded West Wimmera council’s decision to unanimously reverse its previous policy to now allow the rainbow flag to be flown on council flagpoles on May 17.
“Obviously a conversation with the mayor would be appreciated and for him to understand why those words were so hurtful and ultimately unnecessary. I hope he is held accountable and shows remorse,” he said.
But Mr Quaine said he was frustrated there was not a similar community outrage over Federal Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster’s support for the Federal Government’s rejected religious discrimination bill in parliament earlier in the year.
“It also spoke volumes that Dr Webster has failed to speak publicly to condemn Cr Meyer’s comments and call on him to apologise,” he said.
Mr Quaine called on people to celebrate IDAHoBIT at several events across the Wimmera, including a free breakfast at Horsham’s May Park, an afternoon tea at Kaniva library and gatherings at Dimboola library, as well as at a large multifaceted event at Edenhope and District Community Centre during the day, a 6pm vigil at Lake Wallace pier, and an evening at Lake Wallace Hotel.
Mr Quaine said it was important for people to follow sexual and gender diverse groups including Equality Australia, Transgender Victoria and Wimmera Pride Project, to keep in touch with appropriate issues.
“Sexual and gender-diverse communities are not necessarily political, many want to live a life free of politics. But politicians drag our lives into the political sphere. The way transgender people have been used during this election, for example, as political fodder, is disheartening,” he said.
“I hope everyone can stand up for LGBT people equally.”
IDAHoBIT is celebrated on May 17 and recognises the date in 1990 the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from an official classification of diseases.
The entire May 11, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!