In tragic news from Queensland, 21-year-old LGBTQI activist Thomas Coyne, well known among his local community of Toowoomba, a few hours outside of Brisbane, was killed in a car accident on Sunday.

The accident took place on the treacherous New England Highway. Coyne was the only occupant of the vehicle that rolled several times before hitting a pole.  Despite emergency services trying to free Coyne from the wreckage shortly after midnight, he passed away at the scene a short time later.

Coyne, led and was an integral part of Toowoomba’s “Yes” campaign during the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite. He led the march through the Toowoomba CBD, and continued to fiercely advocate for change.

 

 

Coyne’s advocacy work was recognised in 2018, when he was nominated for Activist Of The Year at Brisbane Pride’s annual Queens Ball, describing his role in the campaign as “one of the proudest moments” of his young life

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Coyne also ran as a member of the Queensland Greens in the 2020 elections and was at the time of his death the convener of the Toowoomba and Western Queensland branch of the Queensland Greens.

 

Tributes began to flood social media and online in wake of this tragic news, with fellow Greens member and Australian senator Larissa Waters summing up the immense loss in an interview with The Courier Mail, saying  “We are so sad to have lost one so young, a passionate and active member of our Queensland Greens party, a fierce advocate for rural and regional issues, for marriage equality, for social justice, for a safe climate, and for a cohesive community,” Ms Waters said.

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“Thomas’ passion, drive, glorious zest for life, and wicked sense of humour will be greatly missed. Our hearts are with his mum and all his friends, and our party, as we grieve the loss of one of our own.”

 

 

Local Toowoomba resident, and coordinator (HIV, HCV, sexual health; south west Qld) at Qld Health Bill Rutkin said in another interview that “Thomas was a young man who believed passionately in equality and fairness. He was selfless, kind and respectful. He worked tirelessly for Marriage Equality from the age of 16. The Rainbow community, though rightly saddened by his passing, also celebrates his immense contribution to our society.”

Update

On Wednesday, April 21, a candlelight vigil was held for Thomas Coyne, the young activist pivotal in the campaign for marriage equality in his hometown of Toowoomba. 

The vigil, attended by colleagues, friends and members of the LGBTQI and broader communities, was a chance to pay respects to this 21-year-old trailblazer. In a touching tribute, Toowoomba City Council once more illuminated the Victoria Bridge in Pride colours, which was first instigated by Coyne to mark IDAHOBIT Day in 2016, it was once again illuminated in these colours later that year, tragically to mark Orlando Massacre. 

Speaking at the vigil, local councillor Cr O’Hara Sullivan said of Coyne’s legacy: “Thomas was an activist in every sense of the word; political, human rights, environment, and so much more…Thank you for your activism Thomas, you’ve left your mark in your 21 short years here.”

 A fundraiser has been set up by The Greens to help his family at this time of need, to make a donation you can head to the campaign’s website

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

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