COMMUNITY leaders and activists have put out a call to end biphobia ahead of Melbourne’s Pride March on Sunday.

Bisexual Alliance Victoria (BAV) will be joined by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) at the march, championing an inclusive environment for Melbourne’s bisexual community.

BAV president Rebecca Dominguez said biphobic comments have come from some members of the crowd in previous years.

“Sadly this isn’t the first time that things like this have happened,” she told the Star Observer.

“Some of our members have marched with other bisexual groups in previous years and have experienced verbal harassment.

“It’s disappointing that members anticipate harassment at events like this when they are a celebration of all queer identities… when it’s at queer events or comes from people in the gay and lesbian communities it cuts deeper than if it were from mainstream society.”

Dominguez believes the biphobia faced by bisexual people is rarely addressed when discussing issues related to the LGBTI community.

“Discrimination of the bisexual community is often not acknowledged,” she said.

“But it has a huge impact and it needs to be addressed.

“Research shows that it contributes to bisexuals being on average more likely to suffer anxiety or depression, have higher risk of suicide and have problems with substance abuse.”

Both the BAV and VGLRL acknowledged only a small minority of people at these events made negative comments, and that Midsumma Festival does a great job of supporting a safe and inclusive environment.

However, VGLRL co-convenor Rachael Hambleton said no member of the LGBTI community should ever feel discriminated.

“No member of our community should feel uncomfortable about attending events simply because of who they are,” she told the Star Observer.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe, equal, and heard.

“Pride March has always been a demonstration of our incredibly diverse and inclusive community… let’s celebrate that diversity as we march this weekend and make this year’s Pride March a safe and empowering experience for all our community.”

GLOBE’s GLTBI Person of the Year and Transgender Victoria executive director Sally Goldner said she faced biphobia at past events.

“Particularly at an event like Pride it can be a really upsetting and deflating experience, so it’s definitely not on,” she told the Star Observer.

“We don’t believe that any group should be singled out and that everyone has the right to be there and to be respected, which is that we’re asking wider society to do.”

Goldner believes raising awareness and education are critical in reducing biphobia.

“It involves trying to work logically and figuring out what someone’s misunderstandings are,” she said.

“Pride March is about pride and yes, things are going in the right direction, but we still need a day where we celebrate and acknowledge anyone who’s coming along to march.

“To the people who have negative attitudes about any group, use your freedom to put it aside for one day and let everyone have a great day.”

Melbourne’s Pride March will take place on Sunday, January 31 along Fitzroy St, St Kilda. The event is part of the city’s annual Midsumma Festival.

The Star Observer is a proud media partner of Midsumma.

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