Four Melbourne councils stood up for LGBTI rights yesterday by paying tribute to International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

Community leaders welcomed the greater involvement in IDAHO from the city councils of Brimbank, Darebin, Hobsons Bay and Wyndham.

It was the first time Brimbank City Council recognised IDAHO, holding a public forum on diverse sexuality and gender issues in conjunction with Hobsons Bay City Council.

Wyndham City Council held a rainbow flag-raising ceremony yesterday morning while Darebin City Council’s events included a community meeting to develop the council’s first action plan for LGBTI people.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Karen Toohey spoke at the Brimbank and Hobsons Bay event yesterday at the Brimbank Council office.

“One of the things with IDAHO is that it reminds us that there is still homophobia, it certainly reminds us of the harmful effects of homophobia,” Toohey told the Star Observer.

A rainbow flag was raised in front of the Brimbank Council office before the forum. Toohey said it sent a signal that LGBTI people were recognised by the community.

“For them to be recognising that diversity in the community is incredibly important and says to their community ‘We don’t make assumptions about who’s in the community’,” she said.

“We’ll hope next year that we’ll see a whole range of rainbow flags go up in front of councils on IDAHO.”

Greens MLC Colleen Hartland also attended the Brimbank event and told the Star Observer local council involvement made a “massive difference”.

“Twenty years ago, no one would have thought you could do something like this,” Hartland said.

“This is the stuff local government should be doing because they are the level of government closest to the people, they’re the service deliverers.

“So if people see them saying it’s okay to be gay or lesbian or transgender, it makes a big difference.”

Municipal Association of Victoria’s president, Councillor Bill McArthur, said local governments were focused on tolerance and acceptance in their communities.

“Local government plays a key role in helping to build strong and healthy communities free of inequality, discrimination and racism,” McArthur said.

“Councils are proactive about engaging with their local communities to develop inclusive and equitable policies.”

IDAHO began in 2005 and is recognised on May 17 after the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders on May 17 1990.

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