While the issue of marriage equality simmers away, one of Victoria’s biggest bridal exhibition companies is taking a stand.
When Inspired Expos (owner of Wedding Expos Australia), was approached to hold Australia’s first Diversity Expo, event director Paul Christoforou says it was a natural fit, because members of the LGBTIQ community have been attending the company’s bridal expos for years.
“Commitment ceremonies are often much bigger than weddings, but a lot of bridal expos don’t cater to the LGBTIQ community … It was quite a compliment, because we do bridal expos so well, and we’ve done more than 100 of them,” he says.
- April 16-17, 10am to 4pm
- Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf
- Cost: $19 pre-sale or $24 on the door
The Diversity Expo will host commitment ceremony-friendly celebrants, photographers, venues and car hire, but also covers much broader themes, with 103 stalls hosted by businesses and services doing everything from same-sex adoption and IVF to gay-friendly travel and holiday accommodation, to banking and finance.
“It’s celebrating the community and showcasing vital services in the community, but it’s also showing a spot where they can support friendly businesses,” Paul says.
“People want to be able to make sure that they’re putting their purchasing decisions in the right hands, that they’re spending with the right businesses.”
Jed Gilbert – the president of JOY 94.9, one of the event’s media partners – says he’s heard stories of businesses refusing to serve LGBTIQ weddings and commitment ceremonies.
“When you’re gay, you never know where you’ll face discrimination. It could be on the street, in the workplace,” he says.
“When planning an important event like a commitment ceremony, we need to be able to trust that a business will be gay-friendly. The worst thing would be facing discrimination from staff, venues or suppliers on such an important day.”
Event organisers are expecting thousands of visitors over the two days, and not just people from the LGBTIQ community, but friends, family and members of the broader public as well.
“So straight, gay, whatever you identify as, everyone’s coming!” says Paul. “It’s going to be a really fun vibrant event.”