Minus 18 Same Sex Formal
Minus 18 host an annual formal for young people who don't identify as straight, allowing them a safe space to express themselves freely.Minus 18

An attempt by the Stop Safe Schools Coalition to sabotage a formal (dance) for LGBT young people backfired, with thousands of dollars being donated to the cause instead. Youth-led organisation Minus 18 saw more than A$45,000 (£22,000,€29,000) worth of donations pouring in, allowing them to increase the size of their event for young LGBT people.

The Same Sex Gender Diverse Formal is organised for teenagers who don't identify as straight, allowing them a safe space to express themselves in Melbourne, Australia. Those attending are encouraged to dress however they want and bring whoever they want with them. Conservative group Stop Safe Schools Coalition took offence at the formal (dance hall event) and engaged in attempts to ensure that no teens attended the event.

Writing on Facebook, the Coalition urged their 700 Facebook followers to "purchase as many tickets to this event as possible" to ensure that "youth will not be able to attend". The admin of the Facebook page wrote: "Stop this madness before it consumes every area of education and all your child gets at school is indoctrination, not education."

However, the Coalition did not realise that Minus 18 were crowdfunding the event and by "purchasing tickets", they were in fact donating money to the cause. When Minus 18 realised what was being done by the conservative group, they decided to raise their fundraising target and said that tickets would only be given to young people who connected with them in person or via phone. On 18 February Minus 18 had received A$45,000, more than double of their fundraising target.

Minus 18 wrote on their fundraising page: "We've had 500 tickets now sponsored, thank you so much for all the amazing support. We won't let hate win! Keep sharing and letting LGBTI youth know they're loved, supported, and deserve an amazing night to be themselves."

The Coalition has not appeared to have responded to the incident, however, their initial post about the formal indicated that they would be holding a protest against the event. It is not known who is behind the anti-gay campaign, however, a post on their Facebook page indicated that they had received "death threats".

IBTimes UK has contacted the Coalition via their Facebook page but is yet to receive a response.

UPDATE [19 February at 5.40pm GMT]: The Stop Safe Schools Coalition told IBTimesUK: "The 'ticket buy' was planned within a secret group with the intention to not buy tickets, but announce publically that we would, knowing this was the best way to get publicity and successfully have the Safe Schools Coalition exposed and removed from Australian schools. To clarify, we never brought any tickets the only ones brought were by the general public who saw the post and supported us without knowing our intention. "