‘Most homophobic town’ raises rainbow flag for pride event

The Tasmanian town once dubbed Australia’s most homophobic has raised the rainbow flag over its council chambers in a special pride ceremony.

Ulverstone, in the state’s north-west, was notorious in the 1990s for anti-gay rallies and homophobic hate speech by local community leaders. 

The town was mocked in national comedy shows such as Fast Forward, and the Lonely Planet tourist guide warned queer travellers to avoid it.

In recent years, Ulverstone has turned a corner. 

In 2018, the local council passed a motion in support of the LGBTIQA+ community, placed an inclusion plaque and planted a tree in its ANZAC Park, and lit the town bridge in rainbow colours to mark Tasmania’s Pride Week.

Now, Ulverstone is flying the rainbow flag for the week leading up to the region’s biggest annual event, Out in the Park, this Sunday 21 November.

Speakers at Monday’s flag raising included Mayor Jan Bonde, LGBTIQA+ community elder Trish Bock, and Equality Tasmania President Rodney Croome, who grew up near Ulverstone.

“Raising the rainbow flag over the council chambers in Ulverstone sends a message to [LGBTIQA+] young people that they belong, helps heal old wounds, and shows the world just how much Ulverstone has changed,” said Croome.

“The rainbow flag represents [LGBTIQA+] pride and inclusion, but the flag flying over Ulverstone has an extra layer of meaning because it says that anything is possible.”

Around fifty people attended the flag raising, including students from Ulverstone High School. 

Croome thanked all those who spoke and attended, reserving special praise for Councillor Amanda Diprose, who initiated the flag raising as well as the 2018 motion, plaque, and rainbow bridge lights.

“It was wonderful to see so many [LGBTIQA+] people at today’s flag raising, as well as so many allies, including Amanda Diprose, who is one of the hardest working, most passionate, and most effective allies the [LGBTIQA+] community could have,” he said.

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