The Victorian Government has announced it will provide $500,000 to support the state’s LGBTI community if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed marriage equality plebiscite goes ahead.

The major funding package will include an awareness campaign, and a funding increase for LGBTI mental health agencies and support services.

This week the federal cabinet approved plans to hold a plebiscite on February 11 next year, with both the “yes” and “no” campaigns expected to receive $7.5 million in funding.

Turnbull also presented his plebiscite-enabling legislation to parliament, after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced his own private members bill to legalise same-sex marriage.

Minister for Equality Martin Foley said Victoria needs to be geared to protect its LGBTI citizens.

“This plebiscite is unnecessary – it’s a Liberal Party opinion poll that sets a dangerous precedent at an unnecessary expense,” he said.

“A campaign hasn’t even started yet and we’re already seeing the impact, that’s why Victoria needs to be ready to stand by our LGBTI community.

“We will act quickly to ensure our agencies have additional resources and our community is aware of the need to support their friends and neighbours during a damaging campaign.”

The funding package is part of a broader $27 million investment over four years to implement a suicide prevention framework across the state.

Earlier this week 60 LGBTI groups around the country came together to release a joint statement condemning a plebiscite.

“We ask the Australian Parliament to remember that this is about members of your families, friends, colleagues, and teammates who simply want their relationships to be afforded the same dignity and value as their fellow Australians,” said Anna Brown, co-chair of Australians for Equality.

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