Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) stands in solidarity with the LGBTIQA+ community in north east Victoria and across the state

A recent rise in hateful commentary has unfortunately led to the Rainbow Ball in Wangaratta being postponed over the weekend, after troubling discourse arose on social media.

While we understand the decision and support measures taken to prioritise the safety of young people in our community, it is devastating that those same young people are forced to bear the brunt of hate speech and bigotry.

As a women’s health organisation focused in part on the prevention of gender-based violence, it is disheartening that the bullies and bigots are able to stifle what was meant to be a night of innocent fun and a celebration of Pride in our community.

Too often, targets of violence have been told it is their responsibility to avoid being attacked – walk with a friend, don’t drink too much, don’t draw attention to yourself, don’t go out alone at night – don’t be yourself in public.

When threats of violence prevent a section of the community from living their best authentic lives, from socializing with their peers and celebrating love, freedom, diversity and Pride, the perpetrators are empowered.

We must not tolerate hateful attitudes towards LGBTIQA+ people, including ‘jokes’, stereotyping, dehumanizing language or any other form of discrimination. Words have power and we must ensure that the words we choose are words of love and acceptance.

As the Rural City of Wangaratta, Victoria Police and regional LGBTIQA+ organisations work together to ensure the Rainbow Ball can be rescheduled with the safety and wellbeing of young people at the forefront, let us all stand with the LGBTIQA+ community this Pride Month and beyond.

If you or someone you know requires support you can contact Q Life on 1800 184 527 or at qlife.org.au between 3pm-midnight every day or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for a 24 hour service.