MIDSUMMA Festival has announced it will maintain its controversial News Corp partnership for the remainder of the 2017 festival period.

Members of the LGBTI community criticised the festival’s relationship with News Corp last month after a string of articles and op-eds slamming the Safe Schools programs were published by the media organisation.

Co-convenor of Jewish LGBTI group Aleph, Michael Barnett, announced they would no longer attend Midsumma’s annual Pride March in light of the partnership.

“Every time [writer] Miranda Devine writes a column, another queer kid kills themselves,” he wrote on Twitter recently, in reference to the tragic suicide of 13-year-old Tyrone Unsworth who had been subject to homophobic bullying for years.

News Corp columnist Devine, notorious for her anti-Safe Schools stance, has had numerous pieces published this year deriding the program designed to protect LGBTI students in the classroom.

Adding to the furore, an anti-Safe Schools piece by Labor’s Greg Donnelly was published in The Daily Telegraph the same day that Unsworth’s suicide was publicised.

“Why are you enabling this by promoting News Corp, Midsumma,” Barnett continued.

LGBTI advocate Rodney Chiang-Cruise also criticised the partnership, calling on LGBTI Victorians to boycott the festival.

“So is Midsumma still in bed with News Corp,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Still trying to justify money at the expense of ethics and community? Boycott Midsumma – stand up.”

A petition was also created calling on Victoria’s LGBTI Festival to cut ties with the media organisation.

According to a statement released by Midsumma, the team has undertaken direct consultation with a range of LGBTI community leaders and representatives on the issue.

Midsumma chair John Caldwell said they’ve taken their time to consult rather than make a snap decision.

“As leaders in the community we have an obligation to make the best decisions for the organisation, even when faced with intense scrutiny and I am confident we made the right choice,” he said.

Midsumma chief executive Karen Bryant said she recognises the important role Midsumma plays in the LGBTI community.

“I accept that there will be some who will be dissatisfied with the outcome,” she said.

“However at this time, with only a matter of weeks until January, the Midsumma team must now be able to get on with operations and the business of supporting and promoting the many independent LGBTI artists and community groups who will feature in the festival.

“We hope you will join us in that support.”

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