Brisbane City Council (BCC) will provide funding for the Brisbane Pride Festival (BPF) for the first time in its history in a move that has been described as ‘tangible recognition’ of the city’s LGBTI community.
News of the funding decision was made public last week by the Courier Mail following a council budget debate in which Councillor for the Central Ward, Vicki Howard, announced that the festival would be the first to receive formal financial support from the BCC. The final figure has yet to be decided.
“Like any other festival, Pride is part of Brisbane’s cultural lifeblood while also generating substantial social and economic benefits to our city,” Cllr Howard said. “This funding is a tangible recognition that the LGBTQI community is important to all of us.”
The 23-year-old festival, which runs during September and culminates in the annual Fair Day, ran into financial difficulties for a period of time and was helped out by Cllr Howard recently.
“I helped them out with a little funding from the suburban initiative fund then, but now we’ll be working with them to see what’s needed,” Cllr Howard said.
Not everyone was pleased at the news, however. The Courier Mail report attracted some fervently negative criticism on the paper’s website.
“Shame on you, BCC. Read your Bible!” wrote one commentator.
“It is a crazy world we now live in. A prayer in public is deemed offensive, but a simulated orgy under the guise of a parade is apparently not only inoffensive, but worthy of support with public funds,” wrote another.
The president of the BPF, Deeje Hancock, expressed disappointment at the criticisms, but called on people who hold these views to engage with the LGBTI community and BPF.
“It’s both sad and challenging to see that these attitudes do exist in the greater population, but the BPF would welcome to opportunity to educate people of these positions about our community and misconceptions of it.” Hancock told the Star Observer.
“We would welcome people of this opinion to respectfully attend the Festival and Fair Day with open minds and see if perhaps they cant concede their opinion of their community is a little blinkered and narrow minded.
Hancock praised BCC for its decision to fund the Festival and said that it is a positive step forward for the city in its efforts of inclusiveness and acceptance.
“We welcome the willingness of the BCC to recognise our festival and the diversity of our community in a way that is as culturally significant as many other groups and activities funded by the Council,” he said.