Rainbow flag flies at St Andrew's Uniting Church in Bendigo as result welcomed

The rainbow flag flies in front of St Andrew's Uniting Church on Myers Street. Picture: DARREN HOWE
The rainbow flag flies in front of St Andrew's Uniting Church on Myers Street. Picture: DARREN HOWE

THE rainbow flag is flying proudly at locations across Bendigo – including at a local church.

St Andrew’s Uniting Church on Myers Street accepted the invitation of Bendigo same-sex marriage supporters to fly the flag following the success of the ‘yes’ vote.

The church was one of five to publicly back the yes campaign in August when the survey was first announced.

Reverend Di Esbensen, who also leads the congregation at the Forest Street Uniting Church, said flying the flag showed solidarity with LGBTI people in Bendigo.

She said the survey result was a positive for the wider community, and hoped members of parliament would uphold the will of the people.

“It’s unfortunate we were made to have this survey, which in essence is still not binding,” Reverend Esbensen said.

Related: Bendigo by the numbers: How you voted in the same-sex marriage survey

“My hope is that the spirit of the result is upheld by members of parliament without weakening it.”

The Diocese of Sandhurst was disappointed with the result, with Bishop Les Tomlinson calling on the parliament to legislate for “proper freedom” for people opposed to same-sex marriage.

Reverend Esbensen said these freedoms already existed, as evidenced by churches who can refuse to marry divorcees.

“All safeguards that anyone would need are already in place,” she said.

The Uniting Church’s policy in Australia remains that marriage is between a man and woman, but Reverend Esbensen said she would be happy to marry them if the church gave her the freedom.

“That will be part of the conversation when members of the church get together,” she said.

The Bendigo electorate voted in favour of same-sex marriage by 68.7 per cent to 31.3, making it one of the highest yes votes in regional Australia.

Read more: How Bendigo celebrated the victory for the ‘yes’ side