Surf Coast votes to remove LGBT flag
Victoria’s Surf Coast Shire Council has voted to keep a rainbow flag above its offices, after a tense meeting this week.
The Surf Coast Shire hoisted the rainbow flag at its council offices to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), and will now keep it up there until same-sex marriage is recognised by the Federal Parliament.
Councillor Heather Wellington called for it to be taken down after just a week, saying there should have been community consultation on the matter.
“The shire has raised a flag in recognition of IDAHOT day for a long time and I think that's a completely appropriate thing to do,” Cr Wellington said.
“I think it's a good thing to recognise different groups in our community, but the permanent flying of the flag over the council chambers is an entirely different issue.
“To pick a particular flag of a particular group and fly it on the civic building of a shire is not a decision I believe that ought to be in the power of a council without consultation with its community.”
Cr Wellington was labelled a homophobe by some as a result of her motion.
“It's very disrespectful and unfair,” she said.
“There is absolutely no reason for there not to be marriage equality in Australia and I'm really very firm on that.”
The heated meeting this week saw the council vote to immediately remove the flag, but then accepted a notice to rescind that resolution.
It means the flag will continue to fly at least until the next meeting.
Mayor Brian McKiterick, who voted to have the flag taken down, said he did not feel that the council should challenge the Federal Government to change marriage laws.
“The issue for me is more related to the use of the position of a councillor to attempt to influence other spheres of government,” he said.
“It's divided the council and community so as Mayor I'm looking at ways to come to some sort of agreement.”