Wear It Purple Day celebrated in Bendigo as deadline passes to enrol for marriage vote

COLOURFUL: Damon Marwood, Alex Sweeney and Jesse Bromilow celebrate Wear It Purple Day.
COLOURFUL: Damon Marwood, Alex Sweeney and Jesse Bromilow celebrate Wear It Purple Day.

Friday marks the seventh celebration of Wear It Purple Day, an annual response to the bullying of same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people. 

But in 2017, the day will take on a special significance for Australian youth, including those living in Bendigo.

This year, the day comes amid heated debate over the federal government’s postal vote on marriage equality and less than 24 hours after the deadline passed for electoral roll registration.  

Contrary to speculation, LGBTI people younger than 18 will not be able to participate in the vote to determine the future of same-sex marriage. 

But that did not mean the poll’s result – or the preceding scrutiny – did not impact them.  

Bendigo Technical Education College senior student Jesse Bromilow will be among those who mark the occasion with an afternoon tea at headspace Bendigo.

He will also organise a Wear It Purple event for his school on Tuesday. 

“It’s already pretty good in terms of respect and inclusiveness,” Jesse said when asked about his experiences of discrimination at school and in the community.

“Where it could change is calling people by their preferred name and pronoun, and listing their preferred gender on the role.”  

Wear It Purple Day was also a chance to safeguard the mental health of queer youth, but Jesse said LGBTI people were concerned for their safety since the government approved the postal vote procedure.  

“There are comments all over social media,” Jesse said.

He also lamented the protracted process, saying last time the marriage law was changed it took the parliament just minutes.  

Alex Sweeney, who attends headspace’s diversity group alongside Jesse, was also passionate about making marriage equality come to fruition.

“I don’t think we can ever be truly happy if we can’t marry the people we love,” Alex said.

“What’s the difference between a gay couple getting married and a straight couple?”

Those listed on the electoral will begin receiving their ballot papers on September 12 and will have until November 7 to post their vote. A result is expected on November 15.

Even then, same-sex marriage will require a majority of federal MPs to sign off on legislation.