PEOPLE around the globe will mark International Day Against Homophobia today.
It marks the 13th anniversary of the World Health Organisation removing homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
More than 60 countries celebrate the occasion, including a number of passionate people from the local community.
Bendigo youth group, Bendigo – Equality, Participation, Inclusion and Celebration (B-EPIC) are among those taking a stand.
The group, with the help of Country Awareness Network (CAN Victoria), is hosting an event in Hargreaves Mall today in support of sexual and gender diversity.
B-EPIC members have constructed a bridge and will be taking photos of those who wish to lend a hand to “build a bridge over homophobia.”
CAN Victoria executive officer Adam Wright said the “build a bridge and get over it” theme evoked a strong message.
“In this day and age discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people should not exist,” he said.
“In Australia, although we have come a long way, inequality in the law and unfriendly attitudes towards people with varying sexualities is still widespread.
“The theme is simple: build a bridge and get over it.” Mr Wright said same-sex attracted and sex- and gender diverse people were more likely to use drugs, harm themselves or attempt suicide as a result of homophobia.
He said events such as the one in Bendigo went a long way towards raising awareness and eradicating discrimination.
“This is an example of how communities are now coming together to recognise and value diversity,” he said.
Mr Wright said homophobia was not restricted to a metropolitan or regional setting but was widespread.
“It still exists in smaller communities, the same as it exists in cities,” he said.
“Bendigo is traditionally seen as a conservative community but it is not.
“A large proportion of the community are supportive and accept gender diversity.”
The event will take place in the mall from 11am to 2.30pm.