A SYMBOL of tolerance and diversity will feature heavily during the upcoming G20 Summit in Brisbane later this year, with one particular, pink-sequinned message unofficially being directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announced plans this week to unveil a Hollywood-style “Brisbane” sign (artist’s impression pictured above) to stand in the city’s Southbank promenade during November’s summit, with the Brisbane Pride Festival (BPF) granted input into designing the first letter.

Each letter has been designated to different cultural and ethnic groups from across the state in an effort to display Queensland’s diversity as a part of the summit’s cultural celebrations, according to Brisbane Pride president Peter Black.

“Its creation and decoration is about a collaboration of the different elements of the Brisbane community and it is focused on celebrating Brisbane’s cultural and social diversity in our own back-yard.” Black told the Star Observer.

Plans to adorn the “B” with bright pink sequins will give Queensland a chance to make a statement, according to Newman.

“We’ve got to make a statement about who we are, what we stand for, what we believe,” he told the media.

“We’re a tolerant, culturally diverse community. We’re all very proud of that and that’s important.”

While not officially designed to be an affront to the Russian leader  whose government has enforced so-called “gay propaganda” laws across Russia  the prominent placement of a symbol for the LGBTI community is a message that Black wouldn’t mind Putin being faced with.

“While that has never been the stated objective of the Brisbane sign or our involvement in it, the thought that it in some small way may send a message to Vladimir Putin is certainly one we welcome,” Black said.

“The way in which Russia treats its LGBTIQ community is abhorrent, and any symbolic gesture that promotes tolerance and inclusiveness is important.”

With the history that Queensland’s LGBTI community has had with Newman – including his Coalition government’s scaling back of civil unions to “registered relationships” and attempts to criminalise altruistic same-sex surrogacy – the opposition has questioned why the Premier decided to include the LGBTI community in the G20 celebrations.

“It shouldn’t take the G20 to make Mr Newman acknowledge Queensland’s LGBTI community,” South Brisbane state Labor MP Jackie Trad told the Star Observer.

“Mr Newman can’t just offer up small, token gestures for media stunts.

“He needs to do more to repair the damage caused by the extremely conservative views that pervade his government and their decision-making.”

A spokesperson for the Premier told the Star Observer that he was fervent supporter of LGBTI Queenslanders and wanted to use the opportunity presented by the G20 to showcase many different communities from the state.

“The Premier wanted to include every kind of organisation and community in Queensland as he could through the ‘Brisbane’ sign project,” the spokesperson said.

“Everyone is represented equally.”

Black said it was “significant” that Brisbane Pride and LGBTI Queenslanders were invited to be involved in the cultural celebrations during the summit.

“The LGBTIQ community is an important part of the wider community in Queensland, and this acknowledges that,” he said.

“Ultimately being one of the groups associated with the Brisbane sign for the G20 Cultural Celebrations is a great honour for the Brisbane Pride Festival and represents the important role the LGBTIQ community plays within the wider Brisbane community.”

Australia has been under pressure to ban Putin from attending the summit following questions of his involvement with the recent tragedy of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over a Russian-supported separatist area of Ukraine.


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