Minority take Rainbow Pledge

Dandenong Town Hall is imbued in rainbow lighting in a stand against homophobia in May 2020.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

About a third of Greater Dandenong election candidates have fully or partially supported the ‘Rainbow Pledge’.

In a statewide survey, 20 of the 67 Greater Dandenong candidates pledged full support for the Victorian Pride Lobby’s five points for recognising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTIQA+) residents.

As of 15 October, the full pledgers included Solange Ardiles, Lidia Paul and Hayat Rahimi (Cleeland Ward), Liaqat Khan and Jim Memeti (Dandenong), Gabrielle Maes and Zaynoun Melhem (Dandenong North), Sam Afra, Phillip Danh, Reinaldo Pincheira and Sheree Samy (Keysborough).

Other full pledgers were Rhonda Garad, Jessica Halliday and Gam Le (Keysborough South), Lana Formoso, Pradeep Hewavitharana and Maria Sampey (Noble Park North), Richard Lim (Springvale Central), Ricardo Buensuceso (Springvale North) and Eden Foster (Yarraman).

Brad Woodford (Noble Park North), Sean O’Reilly (Springvale North) and Thay Horn Yim (Springvale South) partially supported the pledge.

The remaining 44 candidates – including every candidate in Noble Park Ward – did not respond to the survey.

The pledge includes supporting Rainbow Tick accreditation for council-run services, an LGBTIQA+ advisory committee and an LGBTIQA+ action plan.

It also comprises support for flying the rainbow flag on council buildings on awareness days, such as Wear It Purple Day, and holding a Pride March or other pride events.

Victorian Pride Lobby co-convener Nevena Spirovska said the survey had been “incredibly effective”, drawing responses from 800 candidates across the state.

“It’s the largest (response) of any pledge and survey during the elections.”

The lobby’s Rainbow Votes website has drawn more than 21,000 hits, including from would-be voters, in the past fortnight.

“It can be difficult to find out what candidates stand for – so it’s been incredibly effective for voters in helping them to choose their vote.”

In December 2019, City of Greater Dandenong endorsed recommendations to improve inclusion and recognition of its LGBTIQ residents.

For the first time, it lit the Drum Theatre in rainbow colours to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia in May 2020.

The council also marked Wear It Purple Day in August.

Departing councillor Matthew Kirwan, who moved the December 2019 motion, said he supported all commitments in the Rainbow Pledge.

“All of them including the action plan are the logical next step.”

Mr Woodford supported all points but for the Pride March – an event that not all of the Greater Dandenong community was yet ready for.

“Some cultures aren’t particularly supportive of those sorts of things.

“It seems Greater Dandenong needs to be handled in a slightly more sensitive way.

“It might take longer to do and take some smaller steps.”