The rainbow flag flies over Ballarat at last for IDAHOBIT Day

The rainbow flag is flying over Ballarat as a symbol for IDAHOBIT Day. Picture: Lachlan Bence
The rainbow flag is flying over Ballarat as a symbol for IDAHOBIT Day. Picture: Lachlan Bence

THE grey clouds have given way to a bright rainbow which yesterday flew proudly above Ballarat.

For the first time since Australia voted `Yes’ to marriage equality, the rainbow flag, a symbol of gay rights around the world was flown above landmarks around the city in celebration of IDAHOBIT Day.

For Ballarat Pride Hub co-ordinator Kirsten Holden, thus year’s celebration held a special significance.

“It’s a chance for our community to finally be visible in our home town and have the support of our council and the region,” Ms Holden said.

“The last 12 months have been full of trials and tribulations for us and this is a big victory. This is a triumph for us to be here and raise the rainbow flag above Ballarat.”

Ms Holden said she was proud of the work the gay community had done in Ballarat.

“Ballarat is the city of democracy and the city of rebellion,” she said. 

“I want to thank those who have gone before us and I hope the work we are doing today can be continued for many years into the future. There is still a long way to go towards true equality for everyone.” 

IDAHOBIT Day (the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia) is observed on May 17 around the world. 

The date was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases by the World Health Organisation in 1990. 

May 17 is also in may part of the world unofficially labelled "Gay Day" due to the date 17.5. It has a natural affinity with Penal Code 175, the rule dealing with homosexuality. Homosexuals were often called "one hundred and seventy-fivers".

It is also the first time the City of Ballarat has raised the flag after the introduction of council’s flag policy.

Councillor Belinda Coates speaks at the ceremony to raise the rainbow flag in Ballarat today. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Councillor Belinda Coates speaks at the ceremony to raise the rainbow flag in Ballarat today. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Although the City of Ballarat had previously passed two motions supporting marriage equality and flew the flag prior to the vote, it was forced to remove it until council formalised its policy.

Councillor Belinda Coates said it was unfortunate Ballarat’s gay community had been dragged into the debate last year.

“There was some concern raised (last year) and some councillors called for a report on a flag policy which I feel was a bit unfortunate because it would have been a great symbol to continue flying the flag through that time,” Cr Coates said.

“As it turned out, the community of Ballarat spoke and our electorate was among the top 10 in the country at 70.5 per cent in support.

“It was a ringing endorsement that our community was not as conservative as some might think it is.

“Today is a significant recognition of IDAHOBIT day for human rights, equality and inclusion. It’s a very important symbol.”