By Luke Voogt
Geelong’s marriage equality advocates have called on City Hall to fly the rainbow flag year-round.
Geelong for Marriage Equality convener Sharyn Faulkner successfully campaigned for the Surf Coast Shire to do the same last month.
“I’ve got two sons, one can marry and one can’t,” the Belmont mother said.
“I hope that one day he will be able to marry his partner just as his brother has.”
She watched as the shire raised the flag for International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia (IDAHoBIT).
“It was very emotion moment,” she said.
“When people drive into the Surf Coast they know they’re coming into inclusive, safe and supportive community for LGBTI people.”
Ms Faulkner welcomed Greater Geelong also raising the flag on Wednesday and said it was the first council to support marriage equality in 2014
But leaving the flag up could be the City’s way of saying it supported lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people (LGBTI), she said.
Geelong Rainbow president Lyndal Coon said keeping the flag up would keep marriage equality at “the forefront of the community”.
“We would love that and we are grateful that the Surf Coast Shire already (have).”
“We find it heartbreaking and wrong (that) same sex couples can’t marry. It’s something as a human right that could have been done years ago.”
Fellow marriage equality advocate Justin Gummer also called on Greater Geelong to fly the flag year-round.
“But there’s no point flying it if they don’t back it up with proactive support,” he said.
“There needs to be a lot of work done in this sector by businesses and councils alike.”
Mr Gummer said more could be done to change community perceptions of LGBTI people and the improve hiring practices.
He spoke of people occasionally throwing beer cans at him or shouting slurs during his several years in Geelong.
“In my time in Geelong I’ve experienced a bit of homophobia but it’s not too bad here,” he said.
Surf Coast councillors voted to fly the flag all year around in a controversial 4-3 vote last month.
Director of community life Linda Quinn said the City celebrates the diversity of the community and supports marriage equality.
Ms Quinn declined to say whether the City would fly the flag all year around but said that any change to current arrangements would involve a council decision.