Lord Mayor Clover Moore made the announcement as part of the traditional rainbow flag raising ceremony at Sydney Town Hall to mark the beginning of the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival commencing this Sunday with Fair Day.
Moore said a permanent symbol will honour the contribution the LGBTI community has made to Sydney over the past 40 years, while also sending a message that the city was safe and inclusive of everyone.
“I’ll be asking city staff to start the planning, design and consultation for a major public artwork at Taylor Square in Oxford St – the traditional heart of Sydney’s GLBTI community,” Moore said.
“We all miss the magic crossing at Taylor Square. I want this symbol to bring as much colour and joy to Oxford St as the crossing did. It should serve as a landmark, a destination, an icon and a meeting place. Something people will want to photograph and share with others.
“Most importantly it should celebrate what has been achieved and remind us how much there is still to do.”
Some of the possible ideas for the public installation aired during a public forum mid-last year included a three-storey hanging rainbow, a statue of a “rainbow god” and a rainbow fountain with bubbles on the hour.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras co-chair Siri Kommedahl said it was fitting that a permanent tribute to Sydney’s LGBTI communities should take pride of place at Taylor Square.
“We are incredibly proud of the contribution our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex communities make to the cultural life of our city, and its reputation as one of the world’s most inclusive and welcoming cities,” she said.
A plan to install a permanent symbol to mark the contribution of the local LGBTI community was first mooted mid-last year when Labor councillor Linda Scott moved a motion for an investigation into alternatives to the rainbow crossing, which was removed from Oxford St by Roads Minister Duncan Gay after last year’s Mardi Gras.
Both Scott and Liberal councillor Christine Forster have since been campaigning for a permanent memorial, and recently in the Star Observer they criticised the Lord Mayor for the length of time it was taking council to decide what to do.
In a rare example of bipartisanship, Scott and Forster released a joint statement criticising the timing and motives of today’s announcement by Moore.
“I’m pleased to finally see that there is a commitment from the Lord Mayor for permanency … in Taylor Square. My strong preference though would have been for it to be done more immediately. I had called for it in May last year but what’s important here is recognition for the community,” Scott told the Star Observer today.
“I look forward to [all councillors being consulted] to ensure that all the community’s views are reflected.”
Forster added that councillors had only learned of Moore’s plan for the permanent artwork through the media this week.
“The Mardi Gras festival has already begun and we still don’t have a permanent monument and the Lord Mayor still hasn’t fulfilled her obligation to include all councillors in the process,” Forster said.
“This week, through the media, the Lord Mayor announced that she will bring a motion to a forthcoming meeting of the Council to erect a permanent monument, not now, but in 2018. Neither of us know what the monument will be, neither of us have been consulted. We have been informed by some LGBTI community leaders that they don’t know either.
“Any moment of such social, cultural and historical significance must be owned by the community. It should be a recognition of the importance of the community, not a symbol of the actions or achievements of a politician.”