IDAHOBIT Celebration Brings Community Together

Rainbow flag in foreground with gathering of people in front of historic building in background

Indigo Shire Council has once again thrown its support behind IDAHOBIT (International Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination), with a moving community event on Friday afternoon.

Following the success of last year’s celebrations, this year’s event was once again open to the public and unity, respect, and a deeper understanding of the challenges the LGBTQIA+ community faces were key themes.

A crowd of over 80 people of all ages, as well as representatives from Victoria Police and several LGBQTIA+ community groups, gathered outside Beechworth’s historic courthouse.

Mayor, Sophie Price, opened proceedings and spoke of how proud she is that each year Council’s celebrations of IDAHOBIT grow, demonstrating the Shire’s leadership and commitment in ensuring a culture where everyone feels safe and supported.

“As we once again stand here in front of such a significant heritage site, I’m so proud that as a community we’re able to recognise the importance of our heritage while celebrating how far we’ve come since that time, and that through this kind of leadership, we’re building a safe and inclusive community for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.” Councillor Price said.

Cr Price thanked the large crowd for coming together to stand together against discrimination and specifically praised the local young people who have shown courage in standing up for everyone’s right to feel safe.

“I particularly want to say thank you the young people who are here with us, those who have travelled and those that show such grace and bravery in standing up for what should be everyone’s most basic right, and that is to feel safe. Together, we can build a world without discrimination, today and every day of the year.” Cr Price said.

The ceremony also included speeches from community-led charity LGBTQIA+ In the North East (LINE) Wangaratta and local young performer Mieke on how important it is to acknowledge and celebrate IDAHOBIT.

LINE Wangaratta founder and Executive Officer Al Winters spoke powerfully about how IDAHOBIT has evolved since it was first acknowledged in 2005 but said more work needs to be done to combat the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ people every day.

“I hope for a future where IDAHOBIT becomes a day of reflection of how far we’ve come, rather than raising awareness of how far we still have to go. LGBTQIA+ people continue to experience discrimination, particularly young people, elders, trans and gender diverse folks and people with an intersex variation. I look forward to a day where we can live as our authentic selves, where we are safe, celebrated and valued. LINE Wangaratta is proud to work with Indigo Shire Council to continue to partner to help make that day a reality,” they said.

Echoing the sentiment and motivation behind IDAHOBIT and Al’s speech, local performer, Mieke spoke about the hopeful message included in her original song and that she hopes it empowers others to be courageous in celebrating who they are.

“My original song Black and White shares a message that urges people who hold homophobic views to question their beliefs through hearing my story and journey to pride in my sexuality. It is also a song for my younger self, and for anyone who feels trapped by beliefs the way I did, showing that despite everything you may be told, or how scary it may be to allow yourself to be your authentic self, it is brave and beautiful to love and celebrate yourself for who you are,” she said.

Councillor Price concluded the ceremony by raising the rainbow flag and stating that it was her privilege as an elected representative of the community to stand with the LGBQTIA+ community and support the fight for equality and inclusion.

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