Two Tasmanian gay men have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $20,000 in a bid to thank long-term equality advocate, Rodney Croome, for his decades of service to Australia’s LGBTI community.
The two men said they first met Rodney in 1988, who at the time had founded the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, fighting for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Tasmania which was finally achieved in 1997.
Jason and Michael said Rodney’s work has seen the ban on LGBTI service personnel in the Australian Defence Force removed, strong national relationship recognition laws passed, and huge strides made in LGBTI policies in education, health and the police force.
Rodney also led the marriage equality campaign for years and worked ferociously to stop the same-sex marriage postal survey and tirelessly to help win it, with Tasmania delivering a vote above the national average, they said.
Jason and Michael launched the campaign a week ago but have already raised more than half their goal.
“It really hit home after the passing of marriage equality in Australia that Rodney has been relentlessly and successfully leading the fight for equality for LGBTI people in Australia for 30 years,” Jason said.
“But he has done this without a regular income, superannuation, paid leave or any of the benefits most people take for granted.
“He’s done this on our behalf, to make Australia fairer and safer for us, for LGBTI Australians. We felt very strongly that it was time to say ‘Thank you Rodney’ so we started this campaign.”
Rodney said he was so grateful to his two friends for setting up the campaign, and thanked everyone who had donated.
“This campaign will help me continue my work on behalf of the LGBTI community, not just by providing sorely-needed income but by reminding me that what I do is valued,” he said.
The men said their campaign had attracted donations from Greens LGBTI spokesperson Senator Janet Rice, the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania, and Sydney PFLAG dad, Geoff Thomas, who worked with Rodney lobbying for marriage equality.
Geoff said Rodney was “an extraordinary person and a real warrior for human rights.”
“Afraid of nothing. Afraid of no one. Dedicated, calm and across his subject,” he said.
“I am proud to know him and to have shared some of this journey with him. Saying thanks to Rodney for his efforts does not seem enough. Rodney is a great Australian.”
For more information about the campaign, visit the GoFundMe page here.