In a historic first, a majority of local councils in Victoria raised the rainbow flag on Tuesday to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Discrimination Against Intersex People and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

According to the Victorian Pride Lobby, a record 68 of the 79 local councils in Victoria flew the rainbow flag “from town halls, libraries, and even courthouses”. 

During the October 2020 council elections, around 270 candidates had signed the Lobby’s Rainbow Pledge and made a commitment to support the issues of the LGBTQI+ community.

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The Rainbow Local Government pledge said that if elected, the councillors would support Rainbow Tick accreditation for council-run services, the establishment of LGBTQI advisory committees and an action plan for the community, advocate for flying the rainbow flag on important days, and push for the council’s participation in local pride events.

Working To Combat Discrimination

“We’re proud to again be flying the rainbow pride flag today to mark IDAHOBIT day,” said Wellington Shire Council CEO David Morcom in a post on Facebook. 

“We’re proud to be an equal opportunity employer with our people and the community at the heart of what we do. Organisations who don’t promote and celebrate diversity in all forms are missing out. It just makes sense to do so. IDAHOBIT day celebrates LGBTIQA+ people globally, and raises awareness for the work still needed to combat discrimination.”

Many councils were flying the rainbow flag for the first time. Mayor Mohya Davies said it was the first time South Gippsland Shire Council had raised the rainbow flag, but it won’t be the last. “It’s just the right thing to do. It’s about dignity and supporting diversity in our community,” said Mayor Davies.

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In a statement Mayor Mark Reeves East Gippsland Shire Council said that raising the rainbow flag was a way to stand with the LGBTQI community. “We want all members of our community to feel safe, supported and included and it is our hope that by supporting small actions, such as raising the Progress Pride flag, we’re showing that East Gippsland Shire is no place for discrimination,” said Mayor Reeves.

Among those who flew the flag for the first time was the West Wimmera Shire Council. In April, the council had voted down a motion to fly the flag to mark IDAHOBIT this year. During the council meeting, Mayor Bruce Meyer made offensive comments against the community. Following a public backlash and advocacy by the Wimmera Pride Project, the council held a special meeting and reversed its decision. 

Visibility Important In Regional And Rural Areas

“Almost 90 per cent of the councils in Victoria raised rainbow flags… it would have significant benefits for local LGBTIQA+ communities, particularly in regional and rural areas,” said Co-Convenor of the Victorian Pride Lobby, Nevena Spirovska. 

“Visibility is important, especially for LGBTIQA+ people who might feel isolated or disconnected from their community. Yesterday’s rainbow wave served as a reminder of the important role councils can play in helping their residents feel safe and supported,” said Spirovska. 

“Each council that raised the flag sent an important message to their local LGBTIQA+ communities: one of diversity and inclusion,” said the Lobby’s Sean Mulcahy. 





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