Same-sex marriage was supported in late 2017 with over 61 per cent of the country voting in favour. For many people it felt like they could now move forward positively accepting each other’s choices of love and sexual identities. Unfortunately this is always not the case and the revitalisation of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians And Gays) Northern Rivers is highlighting the fact that support and education are still needed.
Originally started in 1998 by Robyn and Richard Grzegrzulka the group has provided a range of support, counselling, education and advocacy over its 20 year history.
‘While there have been huge changes in attitudes toward LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, intersex, bisexual, queer, transsexual) people in the 20 years since we’ve had our first stint running PFLAG, it’s all too easy to assume that it’s no longer an issue,’ said Richard.
‘The Yes vote was a fantastic and positive confirmation of that change. The vote also revealed a very large, active and well-resourced opposition who do not regard gays or their families as fully human. Just recently, a revelation of a church approved to teach scripture lessons at primary school, taught year 3 and 4 children that homosexuality is a sin and sinners deserve death.’
PFLAG Northern Rivers will be celebrating 20 years of supporting families and friends of LGBTIQ people this Sunday 29 August at The Tropical Fruits’ Fruitopia fair at Lismore Showgrounds, 11am till 2pm.
PFLAG is aimed at anyone who ‘has a BGILQT family member or friend,’ said committee member Gordon Haynes.
‘Although much of the northern rivers population is relatively enlightened and accepting of BGILQT people, and Australia now has legalised gay marriage, since the changes to the Marriage Act there has been reported an increase in homophobic acts – perhaps as retaliation by those who lost the gay-marriage vote.
‘The change in the legislation has not stopped young BGILQT folk from being ejected from their homes, taunted at school and in public, self-harming and even suiciding. In fact, I am aware of three young gay people who, since last November, have committed suicide over their rejection by family and acquaintances – so there is still a need for PFLAG, even here in the northern rivers region.’
‘PFLAG is there for any such folk who need information or support in dealing with their feelings, attitudes and beliefs relevant to accepting their gay friend or family member.’
For anyone interested find out more email [email protected], find them on Facebook or call 0467 382 010.