Rainbow flag flies high in May

IDAHOBIT flag raising with Surf Coast Shire staff and LGBTQIA+ allies Ella Sweeney, left, councillor Rose Hodge and Mayor Liz Pattison. (Supplied)

The rainbow flag will fly high on the Surf Coast during May to recognise and celebrate International Day against LGBTQIA+ discrimination.

The rainbow flag was raised outside the Surf Coast Shire council office on May 17 to mark IDAHOBIT, the international day against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

Council youth engagement officer and LGBTQIA+ ally Ella Sweeney said it was an honour to celebrate IDAHOBIT, but there was still “a lot to achieve”.

“Always open up the floor for someone to talk and for you to listen rather than talk over their experience,” she said.

“It is showing empathy, not in the sense of tokenism or addressing an issue or a topic head-on, but being there to listen with understanding if someone would like to talk.

“I pay respects to those within the rainbow community who have championed their rights, and as allies, it is our responsibility to continue to honour and amplify their efforts.

“As someone who was raised locally in Jan Juc, it has been incredible to see a gradual shift condemning discriminatory language, and a progression towards pride awareness in our shire.”

Mayor Liz Pattison said council pledged to “never stay silent” about LGBTQIA+ discrimination and that the Surf Coast should be a safe and inclusive place for everyone.

“I am proud to be an LGBTQIA+ ally, and proud that our rainbow flag shows that council is an inclusive workplace,” she said.

The rainbow flag will fly outside the council building for the rest of May to celebrate diversity and inclusion.

Youth LGBTQIA+ advocacy organisation Minus18 found that two in three LGBTQIA+ youths experience abuse due to their identity, and 66 per cent experience bullying or harassment.