MARRIAGE equality advocates will target controversial federal Liberal MP Sussan Ley with a major event aiming to rally rural support for the issue in the regional centre of Albury/Wodonga.

Planned in conjunction with local LGBTI organisations, Australian Marriage Equality (AME) will help stage a weekend event in Albury next month, in Ley’s electorate of Farrer.

The Saturday will include public events and a rally, with local organisation Hume Phoenix mobilising support from the area’s LGBTI community and allies. On Sunday AME will run workshops for local advocates and community groups on how to coordinate local, grass roots campaigns in support of marriage equality.

Event organisers hope to have the support of other local politicians, including council members and Indi federal independent MP Cathy McGowan, whose electorate encompasses Albury’s twin city of Wodonga on the Victorian side of the Murray River.

Ley made headlines earlier this year for comments on the ABC’s Q&A program indicating she believed her electorate was not ready for marriage equality.

The comments sparked an outpouring of support for the issue in her electorate, with many residents eager to reject their MP’s characterisation.

Ley had agreed to a meeting with Hume Phoenix, but co-convenor Toni Johnson told the Star Observer no meeting has taken place.

AME national director Rodney Croome told the Star Observer Farrer had been targeted as having a local member who could be persuaded to support reform on the issue, and said demonstrating support for marriage equality in rural areas was particularly important.

“There is a misconception that support for marriage equality is lower in rural areas but this is not what the polls show. Supporters ​are there, just less vocal sometimes. Our goal is to encourage and skill supporters of marriage equality from across the community to speak up in favour of reform,” Croome said.

He said the event aimed to encourage local MPs to engage with “the majority” view on marriage equality in the region.

The area has a thriving LGBTI community, with nearby Yackandandah holding one of Australia’s largest rural LGBTI festivals, Spring Migration.

Earlier this month Hume Phoenix held its third annual drag competition at a nightclub in Albury, with contestants visiting the town from across the country to compete. Hume Phoenix’s Toni Johnson confirmed to the Star Observer this year’s competition was a complete success, and said community interest in the event continued to grow each year.

AME’s event We’re Waiting will take place in Albury from July 26–27.

 

 

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