IT’S official: red, green, purple, orange, blue and yellow fever has broken out across Sydney.
If the flag atop the pole has suddenly become a lot more colourful, you can be sure your council has been overcome with a rash of equality.
It’s a show of LGBTI celebration that a month ago, when the Star Observer revealed only four of the 38 councils across greater Sydney had plans to raise the flag, no one could have predicted.
In the final week of this year’s Mardi Gras calendar, the number of councils stocking up on rainbow banners has now increased by almost four fold compared to 2014.
Last year only Sydney, Marrickville and Leichhardt councils raised the universal symbol of celebration for the LGBTI community, with all three having done so for many years.
However, this year no fewer than 11 of the city’s councils have — or will — be raising the rainbow flag above their central offices.
Ashfield, Botany Bay, Pittwater, Manly and Woollahra councils gave the rainbow banner the green light several weeks ago.
But in just the last seven days, Warringah Council — on the city’s northern beaches — has confirmed it will drape a rainbow banner from its offices in Dee Why.
A council spokesperson told the Star Observer the banner’s position on busy Pittwater Rd meant more than 50,000 cars would see it daily.
Meanwhile this morning, Randwick Mayor Ted Sang and Mardi Gras chief executive Michael Rolik helped hoist the flag above the eastern suburbs council’s town hall.
Sang said he hoped it would become an annual tradition: “I am sure many other councils and organisations will be inspired to do the same.”
The growing incidence of “rainbow-itis” even appears to have driven one council to change its mind on the vexed issue.
After telling the Star Observer that they only flew “the Australian, NSW Government and Bankstown City Council flags,” the south-west Sydney authority has now confirmed the LGBTI pride banner will be raised to coincide with the parade.
But just for one day – this coming Saturday.
Even the University of Sydney is getting in on the act with the flag set to fly above the campus’ historic quadrangle building for the first time tomorrow.
There would be 12 councils flying the flag but North Sydney, who said they were planning to raise the banner, embarrassingly discovered their flag pole had actually gone missing as it was undergoing planned maintenance.
Talking to the Star Observer, City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore — who wrote to every council encouraging them to flutter the flag — said the reception had been terrific: “It’s about being inclusive and being accepting and acknowledging who we are.”
Asked if she was disappointed 27 councils – including big hitters such as Parramatta and Liverpool and smaller inner city local government areas such as Waverley and Canada Bay – had failed to heed to call, Moore said it meant there was still work to be done.
“That would have been the attitude of all the councils originally so it takes a while to change but it’s a pretty good start,” she said.
A number of councils denied their decision to display the banner was due to Moore’s protestations.
Speaking at Sydney Town Hall’s flag raising ceremony, Mardi Gras co-chair Fran Bowron said the banner was an important symbol of pride, encouragement and community.
At the same event, fellow co-chair Paul Savage made an impassioned speech calling for LGBTI people suffering overseas to be remembered.
“In Australia we truly are the lucky ones — in Syria gay man are blindfolded and thrown from tall buildings to their deaths… and in the Middle East, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters face long prison sentences public beatings, humiliation and even execution simply for being who they are,” he said.
“As a city and community we can shine a light, we can be a beacon of hope of diversity for those unbelievably brave people.
“That is our passionate Mardi Gras and this is what continues to makes us relevant here and into the future after all these years.”
By far, Sydney’s largest rainbow flag — at more than six metres long — was installed in Darlinghurst’s Taylor Square last October by Sydney council to honour the importance of the area’s LGBTI community.
Flying the flag? Yes (Confirmed as of March 2):
Flying the flag? (Confirmed or likely no):
North Sydney (due to a lack of a flag pole)