IDAHOT Blue Mountains 2017

May 12, 2017 in Uncategorized by Kevin Hardwick

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Former High Court judge, Michael Kirby, will be the guest speaker at this year’s IDAHOT Blue Mountains event.

The Blue Mountains activities will take place in Civic Place, Katoomba from 10.30am to 11.30am on May 17 and will include a morning tea, photo exhibition, photo booth, and the raising of the Rainbow Flag, as well as a keynote speech by Mr Kirby.

Mr Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge when he retired from the High Court of Australia in 2009, and has been appointed to a multitude of international government and legal bodies.

Speaking ahead of his Katoomba visit, the renowned human rights advocate praised the local council and community for embracing IDAHOT.

“A few years back, we would not have been doing this. So I thank the Blue Mountains City Council for taking the initiative. It is an initiative based on scientific knowledge, replacing prejudice, ignorance and hatred,” he said.

“Unfortunately, in many parts of the world – and even some parts of Australia – events such as this could not take place. So I thank the citizens of the Blue Mountains for taking a lead in this direction. The outlook in the Blue Mountains has always been farsighted and clear.”

Mr Kirby went on to emphasise his fondness for, and strong links to, the Blue Mountains.

“I came to Katoomba in 1951, on what was to be the only Kirby family holiday together. We could not afford holidays, so 1951 was the big year. None of us have ever forgotten it. My surviving brothers and I have always had the happiest memories of the Blue Mountains,” he said.

“My partner, Johan van Vloten, just before we met in 1969, lived in Badgerys Crescent, Lawson. His parents had migrated to Australia from the Netherlands. They were very happy living in Lawson.”

Longtime Lawson resident and IDAHOT committee member Kevin Hardwick said it was a coup for the Mountains to have Mr Kirby speak locally.

“I wrote to him and invited him, hoping he could attend – and was thrilled when he said yes,” said Mr Hardwick.

“To have someone of that calibre coming to speak – one of the most influential people in legal and human rights circles – is a great asset to our event.”

Blue Mountains City Councillor and IDAHOT committee member Romola Hollywood also expressed her delight.

“On behalf of the Blue Mountains City Council, I thank Mr Kirby for taking the time to attend our IDAHOT event, which is now in its eighth year.

“We are honoured to have him coming, and his presence can only enhance our city’s growing reputation as a diverse, inclusive and accepting community.”

IDAHOT committee member Angelique Sasagi also took up the theme of inclusiveness.

“IDAHOT is a major community event for LGBTIQ people and the wider community,” said Ms Sasagi, who is Executive Director of Thrive Services, formerly known as the Blue Mountains Family Support Service.

“This year’s IDAHOT theme is ‘families’ and we recognise that in 2017, the word ‘family’ includes all kinds of relationships. We hope to welcome a wide range of families from all walks of life at this year’s IDAHOT events.”

IDAHOT – which stands for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – is observed globally on May 17 each year, marking the date in 1990 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases list.