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Uniting stands up for love

Faith-based NFP celebrates the Mardi Gras with comedian Julie McCrossin.

Uniting will be celebrating the Mardi Gras this year with comedian, Journalist, and LGBTI advocate Julie McCrossin.

“For the first time I’m marching in Mardi Gras with a faith-based organisation. For the first time I can reconcile my religion and sexuality,” said McCrossin.

Jill Reich from Uniting said, “We’re showing our love and superpower strength to give a voice to people who are still fighting to find theirs. We’re standing up for LGBTI people of all backgrounds, in recognition of the heroes they are.”

Uniting is marching at Mardi Gras for the ageing LGBTI communities, who often have had to face the ordeal of ‘coming out’ all over again when accessing aged care.

“Our greatest hope is that anyone who is gay, no matter their age, race, faith or physical abilities, can feel confident enough to be their true selves,” Reich said.

“Mardi Gras is a wonderful celebration of how far we’ve come. But despite the immense social change, at a family level coming out can still be traumatic, especially for people from multicultural and religious backgrounds. Each year, little by little, we see more of these people marching. It’s a wonderful, friendly safe space for them to begin their journey to acceptance.”

Third Sector spoke with Jill Reich about Uniting’s strong advocacy towards the LGBTI community.

TS: As a christian organisation do you ever get criticism from other christian organisations for supporting the LGBTI community? How do you deal with any criticism you receive?

We know not everyone agrees with us, but we do what we believe is right and we hope to lead by example. Part of the reason we participate in the Mardi Gras is to publicly show our support of LGBTI communities, to celebrate our amazing LGBTI clients and staff, and encourage other organisations and individuals to do the same.

TS: Why is it important for other religious NFP organisations to follow in your footsteps?

Our foundation is Christ’s invitation to serve humanity by creating an inclusive, connected and just world. For any organisation that aims to do the same, discriminating on the basis of race, religion or sexuality just doesn’t make sense.

TS: Was there a fight or big push to get to where you are at now in terms of acceptance?

We’ve put in a lot of effort to train staff. To date, 6,500 staff have received this training and are much better equipped to create safer spaces for LGBTI communities. Uniting also became the first faith-based aged care provider to receive the Rainbow Tick accreditation, which recognises safe and inclusive service delivery for LGBTI people. When Uniting was awarded the Rainbow Tick this came about because a group of passionate people within the organisation decided it wasn’t enough to just have a tolerant outlook themselves, they wanted to take steps to enhance and formalise this across the organisation.

TS: How do you encourage your supporters to stand up against oppression?

At Mardi Gras this year, our message is that ‘Love Is Power’. We want our supporters to remember that love IS powerful, that by showing your love for others you give support and courage to people who need it.



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