FLYING FLAG TO SUPPORT COMMUNITY
In a show of solidarity to the region’s LGBTQI community, Hepburn Shire Council last week voted to fly the rainbow flag in Daylesford’s Vincent Street.
Councillor Kate Redwood said the council raised the flag as a show of support to LGBTQI community in the lead up to the postal vote on marriage equality.
Chillout Festival director Merryn Tinkler has been with her partner for 26 years.
She said council’s vote to fly the rainbow flag meant a lot to the community.
“It means a lot to the community in the Hepburn Shire to really know the shire is behind us.
“It is really important especially when we are being confronted with a lot of hate and vilification from other directions.”
HOPE TO MARRY AFTER POSTAL VOTE
Ms Tinkler, alongside other same-sex couples in Hepburn Shire, is hoping the impending marriage equality vote will finally allow them the same recognition as their straight peers.
The postal vote in September will provide the opportunity for everyone to have their say on the issue.
However, there has not been any guarantee given that federal politicians will be forced to vote in line with the result. Some have said they will vote as directed, while others said they would abstain if a yes vote won.
Campaigning has already started for the vote with anti-same-sex marriage groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby, pushing hard against change. The lobby’s website said the vote is a proxy war for the nation’s soul and a yes vote would threaten religious freedom.
Daylesford resident Sally Davis, 37, has been with her partner, Sally Trewick, for 17 years. The couple has three children and undertook a commitment ceremony in 2004.
Ms Davis said the arguments against same-sex marriage were irrelevant.
“We are already living a family life. We are blessed to have three kids even though we cannot marry,” she said.
“My eight-year-old is asking about it. He says ‘aren’t you already married?’ and I have to explain it all to him. This postal vote is a licence to say hurtful things about my family.”
Australia is the only English-speaking nation not to have legalised same-sex marriage.
DAYLESFORD COMMUNITY MEET TO ENSURE CONSTRUCTIVE DEBATE
A public meeting in Daylesford last week saw residents discuss how to make the postal vote a constructive rather than damaging debate.
“I know how concerned our gay community are and I think it is important to negate negative behaviours,” Cr Redwood said.
Cr Fiona Robson said people had the right to vote either way, but it was important the community was supported.
“It is important we allow people to have their choice to say yes or no, but we show our support for the LGBTQI community,” she said.
Ms Davis said although she opposed the use of a postal vote to decide the issue, people who felt strongly should take the chance to make their voices heard.
“It is very frustrating so of course it matters to me, my family and the people part of my life,” she said. “Just do it now, this debate has been going for such a long time.”
The vote will be run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics with enrolment closing on August 24.
CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR CHILLOUT FESTIVAL
Meanwhile, Hepburn Shire Council voted to continue financial support for Daylesford’s ChillOut Festival at a meeting last week. The new memorandum of understanding secures the festival’s financial future until 2020.
The agreement details $22,500 council funding in 2018 with up to $10,000 operational support. Traffic control requirements are also outlined in the agreement.
State government funding of $50,000 a year for three years will also assist the festival’s growth.
ChillOut Festival is the largest LGBTQI festival held in regional Australia.
Festival director Ms Tinkler said the committee were hoping to continue to grow the event in coming years.
“It is not possible for us to grow on the three days of the long weekend because the town is basically grid-locked,” she said.
“The only way we can expand or grow the festival is to introduce more days.”
The committee plans to host other events throughout the year. It is currently looking at the potential to increase from a three to 10-day festival next March.
“ChillOut is a great festival because it not only celebrates LGBTQI culture and community, it celebrates it in regional Victoria. It is so important to recognise that the community is not metro focused,” Ms Tinkler said.
“A lot of our community gravitate towards metropolitan cities because there are larger pockets of the community and they think it will be safer.”