VOTERS in Brisbane’s upcoming March council elections now have access to results from a comprehensive survey that setts out party and candidate views on LGBTI-specific issues and their commitments to the community.

The survey — a first for Queensland politics — was conducted by four LGBTI community organisations. They approached all parties and independent candidates to establish how they would respond to current issues facing LGBTI residents in Brisbane City Council.

Spearheaded by Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group (BLAG) convenor Phil Browne, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Brisbane Pride Festival, and the LGBTI Legal Service also helped create the survey and compiling the results.

The majority of questions raised in the survey received support from all four party-aligned or independent candidates, yet clear distinctions existed in the level of support.

The survey results reveal that both the Greens and Labor candidates, along with independent Cr Nicole Johnston, were “extremely supportive” of all issues, with the Liberal National Party being “very supportive” of a majority of issues.

Topics raised with candidates include the establishment of an LGBTI advisory committee, declarations of support for marriage equality, funding and ongoing support for the Brisbane Pride Festival, and symbolic support in the form of rainbow flags on City Hall and rainbow lighting of Story Bridge for the pride festival and the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

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Efforts to promote inclusion of the LGBTI community by the current council was praised by former Sunshine Coast councillor of 14 years and BLAG member Paul Gratton.

“Council has come a long way and can be proud,” Gratton said.

“But there is still a way to go. All levels of government have a responsibility to overcome the tragic toll from anti-LGBTIQ discrimination, especially regarding poor mental health and suicides.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Council to achieve this.”

PFLAG national spokesperson Shelley Argent said she was encouraged to see how far Brisbane had progressed and that all candidates were taking the LGBTI community seriously.

“It’s very heartening to see how attitudes of Brisbane are changing and as a parent of a gay male to see how our city council and the attitude of the candidates for Lord Mayor recognise it’s time to be inclusive of the LGBT community in 2016,” she said.

According to the results of the survey, Labor, the Greens and Cr Johnston are supportive of all issues raised, with the only major point of difference being the levels of funding commitments made to LGBTI community groups in 2016.

The current LNP Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk, responded to the survey with the least amount of support, ruling out the establishment of an LGBTI advisory committee, and mixed results on the issues of support for marriage equality and public statements opposing homophobia and transphobia.

Labor’s Lord Mayor candidate Rod Harding, the Greens’ Ben Pennings and Cr Johnston have all committed to establishing a LGBTI advisory committee, stating they understood the importance of such a representative body in tackling issues facing the LGBTI community.

Quirk and the LNP majority in council rejected the advisory committee last year after an apparent show of bipartisan cooperation, that left some confused by the mixed messages.

Council decided efforts in promoting inclusion and support for the LGBTI community were already addressed by the Inclusive Brisbane Board (IBB).

“Though we believe the alarming evidence of LGBTIQ harm warrants an LGBTI-specific advisory committee, community organisations look forward to working with Dr Black and the IBB to deliver improved outcomes for LGBTI residents,” a joint statement announcing the results of the survey said.

Voters in Australia’s largest local council head to the polls on Saturday, March 19.

For more information and detail regarding the survey results, visit www.bnelag.com

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