CO-FOUNDER: Jayson Gillham has helped create a Maranoa Marriage Equality online group.
CO-FOUNDER: Jayson Gillham has helped create a Maranoa Marriage Equality online group. Contributed

Group hope to create safe space in marriage debate

MARRIAGE equality has become issue numero uno for much of the country with Maranoa not immune from debate.

Research out last year declared Maranoa as the one electorate in Australia where over 50 per cent of people remain opposed to same-sex marriage.

It's reasons like this that led to the creation of a Maranoa Marriage Equality page on Facebook.

Page creator Jayson Gillham said he, along with friends, wanted to create a space where Maranoa members of the LGBTQI community could feel safe in the wake of the marriage equality vote being called and ensuing fallout.

"Immediately after watching the SBS story (last year) about Maranoa being the most homophobic electorate in Australia I knew that there was a real need for a show of solidarity with the LGBT+ community and our allies here in Maranoa; a place where we could come together and safely pledge our support for tolerance and for Yes,” Mr Gillham said.

"I was afraid that after this story, the Yes side in our electorate would feel pressured into silence because of the belief that they were in the minority.

"I knew that people in our region would be worried about how their close relatives and friends felt about the issue and might stay silent to avoid dividing their family.

"There is a very real risk that if No prevails in Maranoa there will be an increase in hate speech, homophobic crime and suicide in our region, regardless of what the national result might be.

"I want young people to feel safe living in the bush.”

Currently London-based, but having grown up in Dalby, the classical pianist who fondly recalls playing a recital at the Stanthorpe Art Gallery, said he sympathised with members of the LGBTIQ community from Stanthorpe to Roma and everywhere in between.

"From the beginning, there has been a focus on family networks, support for the mental health of LGBT+ people in our community, and stories from the bush,” he said.

"We believe that marriage equality is not something that needs to or should be debated, however we are taking this as an opportunity to spread the qualities of acceptance, compassion and understanding in our families and communities.

"We'd love to have more supporters on our page from Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt.”

You can show your support by visiting www.facebook.com/ maranoasaysYES.

Stanthorpe Border Post


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