The rainbow flag flew above Shepparton’s city centre yesterday in recognition of the LGBTQI+ community and the discrimination it has been subjected to throughout history.
Raised at a special ceremony at La Trobe University’s Shepparton campus, the event marked International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
Uniting Kildonan’s Diversity support worker Georgina Poort began the ceremony by sharing her own journey with those present.
Growing up in Rochester, Ms Poort struggled to feel accepted in her community where there were few openly LGBTQI+ people.
But 12 years after finishing high school, Ms Poort now feels a sense of belonging in her community.
She said the idea to commemorate IDAHOBIT came after the Victorian Government sent its Equality Roadshow to Shepparton 18 months ago.
Six months later Shepparton’s LGBTQI+ Alliance was born including community and industry players such as Goulburn Valley Pride, Uniting Kildonan’s Diversity Project, La Trobe University/Shepparton Students’ Association, GOTAFE, Berry Street/Education First Youth Foyer, Primary Care Connect, headspace Shepparton, Word and Mouth and The Community Fund GV among others.
Ms Poort said it had also been six months since Australians voted yes to marriage equality.
‘‘That has helped us to feel more confident,’’ she said.
IDAHOBIT is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are still illegal.
It is not a singular, centralised campaign, but a global movement that can be used by anyone to push the recognition of human rights for all people irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
IDAHOBIT was first launched on May 17, 2004, to raise public awareness about the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQI+ people internationally.
May 17 was specifically chosen to mark the anniversary of the World Health Organisation’s 1990 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.