Lithgow’s LGBTQI community and friends gathered at the Lithgow Library to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) for the first time in town.
- IDAHOT stands for International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia
- Celebrated in 130 countries worldwide
- Rainbow Lithgow is a social group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex residents and allies
Local Jeff Thurlow thanked Lithgow for being a welcoming community to him and his partner Sebastian Caruso who moved to Lithgow from Sydney.
IDAHOT is celebrated on May 17 to commemorate the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization decided to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. Mr Thurlow touched on some of the changes achieved by the gay rights movement in Australia since he was a teenager.
“If you admitted to having these issues in the 1970s you got bashed behind the toilets. Homosexual acts were still actually illegal in NSW in 1984. There was great fear and people were being jailed.
“In parts of Sydney gay men were being tossed off cliffs in Manly and Bondi, which the police did nothing about. It was a very scary time, at the same time there was the hysteria about AIDs.”
Reverend Matthew Trounce of Lithgow Uniting Church also spoke about changes within the Christian tradition.
“Those for whom religion and spirituality are important its hard to have some of those ideas challenged,” Mr Trounce said.
“Marriage used to be viewed as an economic arrangement between families but in recent times at least in Western countries, couples have changed that, marriage is now about love.
“If that’s what marriage is about then of course all couples should be able to marry. There is a big push for that in parts of the Uniting Church.”
The large audience was impressed with the day’s event, and many said they hoped it was the beginning of further acknowledgement of Lithgow’s rainbow residents.
“It was a great turn out with lovely speakers,” said Loreen Baker Jones, one of the organisers of the Rainbow Lithgow Group.
“Just like the speakers’ said, love is love.”
Tony Sutton, a representative of PFLAG Bathurst, a network for parents, friends and families of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people, travelled to Lithgow for the celebration.
“My son came out when he was 21. We were as put out as any other parents and we went on to form the PFLAG Bathurst group with the help of the parish priest, funnily enough.
“We don’t get too many calls these days, mostly from more isolated areas. These kinds of events help normalise gay and lesbian people in society.”