Activist’s suicide casts pall on rally

• Activist Amber Maxwell has taken her own life a week before a rally she’d helped plan. Photo supplied | Dean Smith Photography

• Activist Amber Maxwell has taken her own life a week before a rally she’d helped plan. Photo supplied | Dean Smith Photography

A young activist has taken her own life a week before a marriage equality rally she’d helped organise.

Equal Love WA co-convenor Amber Maxwell, 20, died Saturday August 24 at 5.44pm, shortly after attending a refugee rights rally. The transgender woman had been at the forefront of the local LGBTI rights campaign and was known for fiery speeches on the megaphone.

On July 31 the Red Flag socialist newspaper published an account of discrimination she’d experienced in Perth, describing her rejection from crisis accommodation which refused to house her with other women, saying they only wanted “real girls”, and a lack of psychiatrists in WA who deal with transgender patients.

At the time of her death she was living in a youth hostel in Baldivis.

“Life as a transgender or gender-diverse person is often characterised by difficulty and discrimination,” she wrote. “Family rejection, homelessness, depression, attempted suicide—these are a regular part of our existence.” She wrote the equal marriage campaign was a “ray of hope” in her life and a “source of inspiration”.

Following her death, sister Jodie told activists on Facebook, “I know how much Amber worked on [the rally] and wanted it to be a success. So please… everyone keep fighting for the things she believed in.”

Fellow Equal Love WA co-convenor Sam Cavallaro told the Voice, “she was a passionate activist and campaigner. She was an inspirational speaker and you could hear the fire in her voice.”

Mr Cavallaro says there’s now a deep “sense of tragedy and loss”. The rally will go ahead Saturday August 31 at 1pm at Stirling Gardens (corner of Barrack Street and St Georges Terrace).

by DAVID BELL

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