LGBTI advocates have called on Liberal MP Dan Tehan to attend tomorrow’s largest-ever country football Pride game at Hamilton’s Melville Oval.

Tehan, whose office is in Hamilton, was earlier this month asked on ABC’s Q&A to explain what he is doing to combat homophobia in his electorate and show his support for the LGBTI community.

He was criticised for speaking vaguely of supporting “groups of young people” in his response—not even using terms such as LGBTI to acknowledge the community.

Audience member Gregory Storer challenged Tehan, the Minister for Social Services, to “walk the walk” by attending the Pride game to show his support for the community.

A highlight of tomorrow’s star-studded Hamilton Pride and Inclusion Day will be the VFL women’s match between Melbourne University and the Darebin Falcons.

The match will include trans player Hannah Mouncey, reigning AFLW medalist Emma Kearney and AFLW Star Kaitlyn Ashmore.

Both teams are playing in specially designed rainbow jumpers to signify pride and inclusion.

The Hamilton Kangaroos will play South Warrnambool, also in rainbow jumpers, ahead of the VFL women’s game.

For the very first time at a Pride game, there will also be a men’s netball State of Origin game between Victoria and South Australia, featuring former Australian player and Hamilton local Will Jamison.

A lunch at Alexandra House Hamilton from 12 noon will feature guest speaker Olympic gold medallist Daniel Kowalski, talking about his triumphs in elite competition and his decision and courage to come out as gay in April 2010.

The lunch will also feature triple Hawthorn premiership player, AFL MVP and LGBTI advocate Russell Greene.

Charles Beaton, organiser and founder of Gay That’s OK, said that the day will highlight the poor support that people struggling with their sexuality and gender have in country areas.

“Those struggling with their sexuality or gender in country areas do not have the support to be themselves, meaning they are far more likely to have mental health issues and attempt suicide,” said Beaton.

“Pride games break down barriers in country areas and help shine a light on the struggles.

“It also serves to educate country areas around the impact sexuality and gender can have on your life.”

Beaton said his brother had felt forced to hide his own sexuality for many years, leading to mental health struggles.

He echoed calls for Tehan to demonstrate support for the community by attending the day.

“We call on local MP Dan Tehan to show support for the LGBTI community and stop ignoring those that are struggling to live the life they want in country areas,” said Beaton.

“This is the second annual Pride game and he is yet to make an appearance.”

After last year’s inaugural Pride and Inclusion Day, Hamilton’s electorate of Wannon voted Yes to marriage equality at a rate higher than the national average.

Beaton said the game and its message of acceptance had also sparked conversations that led to local LGBTI people having the courage to come out to their families.

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