Southport Police Station has raised its first rainbow flag on Thursday to mark this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
IDAHOBIT is recognised internationally to raise awareness of discrimination and prejudice experienced by queer people and events are held to spread messages of acceptance and inclusion.
May 17 is the date on which the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases in 1990.
Senior Constable Lorianna Blaylock is the Gold Coast Coordinator of the Queensland Police Service’s LGBTI Liaison Officer Program and she said the flag was a public display of support for the community by the QPS.
“It’s great that the QPS is showing its support for diversity and equality within our workplace and within the community,” she said.
Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group convenor Phil Browne told an IDAHOBIT ceremony at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Thursday evening that prejudice and discrimination against LGBTIQ people was still widespread.
“Thirty-seven of the 53 Commonwealth countries criminalise homosexuality, and nine of those countries have a maximum sentence of life in prison,” he said.
“Unfortunately we don’t have to go far from our shores in the Pacific to find countries where homosexuality is still criminalised.”
Browne said grassroots events commemorating IDAHOBIT in Brisbane were started seven years ago and the level of awareness of LGBTIQ issues had “increased astoundingly” in the years since.
He said at least nine prominent Brisbane landmarks were lit up in rainbow lights and rainbow flags had been raised all over the city on the day.
“These are very significant moves that should be commended. There’s strong support from government and business saying they value and respect LGBTIQ people,” he said.
Brisbane City Councillor Vicki Howard said she was among the council representatives who raised the rainbow flag at City Hall early on Thursday morning.
“It’s wonderful to see the rainbows all around Brisbane, and seeing people are embracing that symbolism supporting the LGBTIQ community,” she said.
She said over 100 people had gathered at an event organised by the council’s LGBTIQ employee support network River City Pride.
“We’ve celebrated the day for the last three years and each year that we do it, the number of people grows,” she said.