A 'ground-breaking' event to tackle homophobia and hate crime in Dorset was a ‘complete success’.

The Anti-LGBT Prejudice Initiative Awareness Event was hosted by the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network, to work towards a ‘homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia free, inclusive Dorset’.

The Equality Network’s lead officer, Alan Mercel-Sanca said the evening was ‘amazing’.

“The event was really successful, with the Mayor and all attending, greatly enjoying and contributing ideas and valuable discussions on the important topics covered and relating to the network actions,” he said.

Held at Weymouth Library, the special landmark event aimed to highlight the LGB&T Dorset Equality Networks initiatives to counteract anti-LGBT prejudice and promote broader inclusion values.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Weymouth and Portland, Cllr Christine James, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council briefholder for social inclusion and statutory sector officers attended plus members of the local LGBT community including Weymouth Gay Group.

Mayor of Weymouth and Portland, Councillor Kevin Brookes said: "It was an opportunity to see how yet another, and I'm afraid to say another yet another, small group of volunteers are having to constantly work to raise awareness and understanding of the problems community members face."

The event included announcements on learning and educational initiatives by the Equality Network with a range of partners, including the libraries service and Weymouth College.

They also introduced a ground-breaking mental-health related initiative with the NHS.

As many members of the network are from Bournemouth and Poole the network were working hard to raise awareness across the county. 

"They were really pleased with the help and assistance they have got from every service in the area from the council to the libraries. It was a really positive event," Mr Brookes said. 

Mr Brookes added the event had been a fantastic networking opportunity to bring interested people together. 

"There was an elected member of the council there with knowledge of how things at the council work and how we can get things moving. There were a lot of great ideas coming forward." 

Mr Brookes said he suggested Alan and his team come to the council offices to liaise with councillors about future initiatives. 

He added a ceremony to support LGBT community members was also being considered. 

"We have various flag raising ceremonies throughout the year and I said, give me a rainbow flag and we'll have a flag raising ceremony. 

"If it happens when I am mayor I am more than happy to do it," he said. 
The LGB&T Dorset Equality Network is partially funded by the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner to raise awareness around prejudice, bullying and hate crimes.