Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced $15 million in funding for a 'Pride Centre' as part of the 2016/2017 Victorian Budget.
The centre will be a hub for LGBTI advisory, health and support services, and also showcase queer art and history. Similar facilities are common across the United States, with Victoria's expected to be larger than the 'San Francisco LGBT Community Center'.
Premier Andrews has been a strong proponent of LGBTI rights, establishing Australia's first Minister for Equality, Martin Foley, and Victoria's first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Rowena Allen. Earlier this month he committed $1.04 million to continue the Safe Schools Coalition anti-bullying program in Victorian schools despite federal government attempts to water down the education program. Last year the Victorian government also amended the state's adoption laws to allow same-sex couples the right to adopt children.
“Equality is not negotiable in Victoria," Mr Andrews said following yesterday's Pride Centre announcement.
“Victoria’s LGBTI community has a lot to be proud of and I congratulate everyone who has worked hard to make Australia’s first Pride Centre a reality.”
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) welcomed the funding commitment.
"It’s been a long time since the state government has funded infrastructure to support LGBTI communities in Victoria,” VAC CEO Simon Ruth said.
“We’ve been discussing the concept of a Pride Centre with Minister Foley and Commissioner Allen since their appointments under the Andrews government, and we’ll be delighted to work with the government on furthering the project.
“I’ve spent time at similar centres in San Francisco and New York and I’ve seen how those spaces can become hubs for LGBTI communities. We have some incredible LGBTI community organisations in Victoria, and it’s so important to have the autonomy of an LGBTI-run space where we can come together and support each other, as well as provide a safe, welcoming space for our community members.”
The timeframe for establishing the Pride Centre, as well as its design and location, will be agreed in consultation with the state's LGBTI community.
On May 24, the Victorian Parliament will make a formal apology to the LGBTI community for those convicted under historic laws against homosexual acts.