Pride WA is taking a stand against corporate ‘queerwashing’


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Image: Pride WA

Pride WA has said they won’t allow Western Australian businesses that fail to support their LGBTIQ employees to sponsor their Pride events, in a new policy tackling “queerwashing”.

The group’s leaders made the “bold and risky” declaration this week in an open letter to businesses ahead of their upcoming November festival.

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They write, “The war against intolerance is far from over in Western Australia.

“We’re now in a dangerous period of oblivious complacency. Many [are] satisfied that LGBTQI+ issues have been adequately addressed.”

However, research shows LGBTQI+ people are still at far higher risk of mental health issues and homelessness than heterosexual people, Pride WA said.

Fifty-six per cent of LGBTQI+ people in WA hide their identity at work, research conducted for the group found.

And only 34 per cent said their workplace had an inclusive culture or policies.

“That’s a tough load when you’re just trying to get the job done,” Pride WA explained.

But these “persisting issues are in danger of being whitewashed against the colourful display of public support,” they warn.

Instead, business and industry should make genuine commitments to their workplaces as well as the broader LGBTQI+ community, they write.

“Besides the rainbow flag tokens and Wear It Purple day gestures, what are you doing to create a genuine culture shift that supports inclusion and diversity in the workplace and community at large?” they ask.

Pride WA call for funding to address ‘on the ground issues’

Pride WA President Curtis Ward and Vice President Gerry Matera both signed the open letter.

The organisation are holding their 2021 PrideFEST Fair Day on November 14 and Parade in Perth on November 27.

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Pride WA acknowledge some of their corporate partners have repeatedly supported the festival.

But they’re declaring “token gestures” and using the support for marketing purposes is “not enough”.

“We understand our high-profile festivities offer businesses exposure, affiliation value and community recognition,” they wrote.

“This year we are asking our business and industry partners to back their involvement with extended financial support.

“[This will help] Pride WA deliver life-changing, community-strengthening programs and support across WA.”

Gerry Matera explained Pride WA has a “responsibility as the peak body for LGBTQI+ Western Australians.”

“We are trying to set up Pride to really tackle grassroots, on the ground issues,” he said.

For instance, transgender and gender diverse youth need more support services across the state, he said.

“But there’s a lack of funding from government or business, and mental health issues for kids are increasing,” he said.

As a result, Pride WA want to expand their operations and advocacy work, necessitating donations.

“We know this is both a bold and risky move,” Pride WA write in the letter.

“We hope it will encourage businesses to look beyond the rainbow ticks, purple clothes and PrideFest Float gestures to determine the depth of their conviction.

“But here is our promise. As you and your organisation increase your support to this incredibly important social cause, we will return it in an abundance of Pride.”

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