Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has thrown his support behind International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

Showing early in his tenure a willingness to follow former police commissioner Christine Nixon’s lead in speaking up for GLBTI Victorians, Overland will join the community in speaking out against homophobia.
IDAHO will be marked around the world this Sunday, May 17.

A statewide campaign, led by the Anti-Violence Project of Victoria (AVP), involves an interactive website with anti-homophobia messages from community leaders and the general public.

Overland joins a host of Victoria Police officers, including Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers, sending messages of support.

Diversity should be celebrated, not hidden because of fear of violence, Overland’s message stated.

A photo kiosk will be set up in the Bourke St Mall on Friday so passers-by can take photos with anti-homophobia messages to post on the website.

More than 50 people, including Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, have lent their support to the campaign.

This year, Victoria Police have investigated two cases of serious homophobic assaults which resulted in victims being hospitalised.

Gay and Lesbian Advisory Unit Manager Sergeant Scott Davis said it was important for police to be involved with the day to set an example for the wider community to challenge homophobia.

I know many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people continue to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity because of ongoing discrimination, verbal abuse, property damage and physical assaults directed at them, he said.

Davis said it is vital the community report homophobic crimes. Only an estimated 10 percent of homophobic crime is ever reported to police.

A 2008 report from the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society found one in seven GLBT Victorians live in fear of violence or harassment and 85 percent have experienced some form of abuse.

AVP spokesman Greg Adkins said Victoria Police’s involvement was vital to the campaign to ensure the community feels safe.

It is the responsibility of each and every Victorian to stand up to homophobia wherever they see it, be that in the street, at school, at home or even in a nightclub, he said.

The police can deal with the physical violence, but we need everyone to stand up to the day-to-day insults.

Homophobia stands shoulder to shoulder with other prejudice-related crime, physical violence, sexual assault and relationship violence as something we should never remain silent about.

The online photo campaign is an initiative of Victoria Police, AVP and community organisations including the ALSO Foundation, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, TransGender Victoria and JOY 94.9.

info: Upload your IDAHO photos and comments today at stophomophobiatoday.com

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