Pride Centre a huge win for Ballarat

Will travel: Gay rights spokesman Luke Gahan said LGBTI Ballarat people would be happy to travel to Melbourne to access a planned Pride Centre.

Will travel: Gay rights spokesman Luke Gahan said LGBTI Ballarat people would be happy to travel to Melbourne to access a planned Pride Centre.

A GAY Pride Centre to be built in Melbourne will be a coup for regional LGBTI people, according to a Ballarat gay rights spokesman consulted for the project.

Luke Gahan said he and another regional spokesperson from Shepparton were part of a wide consultation process for the centre.

The state government has announced it will contribute $15 million in its 2016/17 budget towards the Pride Centre, which is planned to be bigger than San Fransisco’s LGBTI Community Centre.

The centre will showcase LGBTI art and history as well as bring together health and support services and act as a meeting space for community groups.

Mr Gahan said he had suggested the centre be built close to Southern Cross station, so regional commuters could easily access it.

The state government will finalise the design location following more LGBTI community consultation.

He said he believe Ballarat LGBTI people would travel to use the facility.

“If it’s close to somewhere like Southern Cross and easy to access, I think they would,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be brilliant for tourism in Victoria because there are so many possibilities. It gives people like the Pride Parade and Midsumma a place to organise things.”

Mr Gahan said news the centre would be built in Melbourne gave him hope a similar centre could one day be built in Ballarat.

Ballarat same-sex marriage proponent Ron Egeberg said he thought Melbourne was the perfect location for an LGBTI centre.

“Life has been a struggle for people in minority groups and the acceptance of the broader community towards the LGBTI community and same sex marriage is a badge of honour for Victoria,” he said.

The announcement comes ahead of the state government’s apology to the LGBTI community on May 24 for people convicted under prejudiced laws against homosexual acts.

Minister for Equality Martin Foley said the Pride Centre would be a “great meeting place”.

“The Pride Centre is long overdue and will attract people from across Victoria, Australia, and the world.”