On Thursday morning, visitors and staff arrived at the Victorian Pride Centre to find offensive graffiti scrawled on one of the walls of the building.
“When are you lot moving out?” the graffiti said.
Graffiti and tagging are not new in Melbourne. However, this one, scrawled on the wall near the entrance of the Pride Centre, which opened last July, appeared to be directed at the LGBTQI community.
‘LGBTQI Communities Still Face Discrimination’
The Victorian Pride Centre on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda is Australia’s first purpose-built and world’s second-largest centre for the LGBTQI community. Since it reopened in November after Victoria’s sixth lockdown in November 2021, the Pride Centre, which has also hosted COVID-19 vaccination programmes, has been largely welcomed by the local community.
“Graffiti appears from time to time and is periodically removed as soon as practicable, and it’s not necessarily directed at community members or people within the building,” Justine Dalla Riva CEO of the Victorian Pride Centre told Star Observer.
The latest graffiti did however seem to have been a not-so-subtle message directed at the community. “It’s disappointing of course, but reflects why it’s so important to have a Pride Centre, and shows that as LGBTIQ+ communities we still face discrimination,” said Dalla Riva.
‘Nothing Is Going To Take Our Pride Away’
City of Port Phillip deputy mayor Tim Baxter went to the Pride Centre on Thursday night to assess the situation.
“We made contact with the Pride Centre, who hadn’t reported the graffiti as they were planning on removing it themselves. We offered to send a team down to remove it and the VPC gladly accepted it,” the deputy mayor told Star Observer and added that the council would also “monitor for any future graffiti that needs to be removed.”
Baxter also sought to reassure the LGBTQI community. “The Pride Centre is a beloved icon of St Kilda, and the community are very proud to have it here in St Kilda”
“We have a very diverse population here and one of the largest LGBTIQA+ communities in the country. The federal seat here returned one of the largest YES votes in the country for marriage equality during the plebiscite, and Council is reflecting the will of our community in developing and implementing an LGBTIQA+ action plan and pursuing Rainbow Tick accreditation for council services. We’ve also been long time supporters of the annual Pride March,” said deputy mayor Baxter.
“We’re proud of who we are in Port Phillip, and nothing is going to take that Pride away!” he added.
There is an epilogue to the story. On Friday morning, staff noticed that there was a new counter graffiti, with the words “lot moving” scrawled out. Instead, the words now read “When are you coming out?” A new message was added for good measure: “Queers Rule. You Are Loved! Solidarity Freedom!”