Blue Mountains gears up for IDAHOT events
LGBT people and their allies will come together at several events in the Blue Mountains this month, to mark the 2016 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).
IDAHOT, which is observed globally on May 17 each year, aims to raise awareness of discrimination and violence against LGBT people worldwide. The date was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision to remove homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases list in 1990.
Local IDAHOT events will kick off at 10am Tuesday, May 17 with the raising of the rainbow pride flag at Civic Place, outside the Blue Mountains City Council Chambers in Katoomba. A rainbow flag will be also be hoisted at Echo Point, with both flags flying for one week.
Blue Mountains City Councillor Romola Hollywood said Council supported the initiative to help ensure all local residents felt valued.
“Since 2010, Blue Mountains City Council in association with community groups, such as Pink Mountains and Mountains Support, has recognised IDAHOT each year,” said Cr Hollywood.
“We do this to stand up against homophobia and transphobia, and to demonstrate how the Blue Mountains is an inclusive community, where people of diverse backgrounds feel safe, welcome and accepted.”
The experience of new Katoomba resident Tiphanee Athans highlighted just how accepting the Mountains had become.
“Having recently moved from Sydney, my partner and I felt it was important for us to find a community where we were free to live and love without judgment, said Ms Athans, who recently joined the IDAHOT Blue Mountains Organising Committee.
“We have been pleasantly surprised at how welcoming our neighbours and the general public in the Blue Mountains have been,” she said.
Fellow Katoomba resident and IDAHOT committee member Malcolm McPherson will speak at a second IDAHOT event, to be held from 11am to 1pm on Saturday, May 21 in Katoomba’s Carrington Square.
Held on the Saturday for those who can’t attend Tuesday’s flag raising, the event will feature live entertainment, a photo exhibition, refreshments and speeches by several people including Mr McPherson, who is also the NSW Co-convenor of Australian Marriage Equality.
“Transphobia and homophobia, and the social and legal discrimination that follow, cause immense harm to the mental health and wellbeing of LGBT people,” said Mr McPherson.
“IDAHOT is important in creating a more positive environment and a more inclusive community for us all.”
The IDAHOT events will conclude with a photo shoot at 2pm on Sunday, May 22 alongside the rainbow flag at Echo Point. All community members are welcome to attend.
The events will coincide with TransFormal, a three-day celebration of gender diversity culminating in the annual TransFormal dinner/dance at the Carrington Hotel on May 21.