Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services is calling on fellow organisations around Australia to stand up for culturally diverse LGBTI people.
In a statement released on Monday, the organisation said it was in support of marriage equality and called on other multicultural organisations to do the same.
“We believe that marriage equality is a human rights issue and that it is a necessary step in ensuring all Australians are equal before the law,” the statement read.
“As an organisation that champions diversity and works from a strong human rights framework, we believe it is important for us to publicly support marriage equality.”
The organisation said culturally diverse LGBTI people were at particular risk of psychological distress and isolation during the marriage equality debate as they faced multi-levelled discrimination.
“LCMS urges culturally diverse LGBTI people who may be feeling isolated or distressed at this time to contact us and seek support,” the statement continued.
LCMS executive officer Kate McInnes said the more people valued and celebrated diversity, the stronger the community would become.
“Personally, I do support marriage equality and look forward to same-sex marriage being passed into law,” she said.
“This will allow us to move forward and become a more inclusive community, where culturally diverse LGBTI people feel a greater sense of belonging and acceptance.”
LCMS chairman Abhishek Awasthi said he wholeheartedly supported marriage equality.
“[I] believe that the current anti-discrimination laws should be maintained and enforced to ensure that businesses or service providers cannot withhold goods or services from clients due to their gender or sexual orientation,” he said.
“I want to live in an Australia where we have laws that uphold everyone’s human rights, including LGBTI people’s right to marriage.”
Council to fly rainbow flag
The move by LCMS comes as one central Victorian council has resolved to fly the rainbow flag for the duration of the upcoming postal survey into same-sex marriage.
Macedon Ranges Shire councillors voted at their August meeting to fly the flag at the Kyneton and Gisborne administration centres in support of the LGBTIQ community.
Councillor Natasha Gayfer raised the motion at the meeting and said the same-sex marriage debate was having an effect on the community.
“I felt this was an important issue for the community and I wanted to find a way for the council to show support,” she said.
In Cr Gayfer’s speech to the meeting she said the shire was the closest level of government to the community, and as such, had a responsibility to show leadership on the issue that was damaging community cohesion.
“I’ve spoken to residents who are struggling, and are looking to how council responds,” she said.
“These conversations about marriage equality are hurting people. I cannot imagine what it is like to hear and read other people’s opinions about whether I should have the same human rights as everyone else.”
Cr Gayfer said the motion was not about telling residents how to vote.
“What I would say to the broader community is, make sure you exercise your democratic right to have your say, and please be respectful and look out for each other – which I think on the whole we do pretty well,” she said.
Councillors also agreed to promote an upcoming event by Openhouse Macedon Ranges to celebrate diversity within the community.
Culturally diverse LGBTI people who may be feeling isolated or distressed can contact Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services by calling 5441 6644 or visit www.lcms.org.au, or Lifeline 13 11 44 for 24 hour crisis support.