THE Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) has encouraged LGBTI Victorians to turn their local government rainbow and stand for council at the elections later this year.

VGLRL co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said having a stronger LGBTI presence in local councils will ensure greater awareness around issues affecting sex and gender diverse people.

“LGBTI councillors have a proven track record of working across the political divide to achieve tangible outcomes for their local communities,” he said.

“They can become an informal source of education and awareness on LGBTI issues for other councillors and the community alike.”

Former Wodonga City Councillor Eric Kerr served for four years in north-east Victoria, during which time he seconded a motion supporting marriage equality in his council.

“My experience is that of a son of same-sex parents,” he said.

“Raised by two wonderful mothers, I had the absolute pleasure of interacting with some local same-sex parents who, like my own, had chosen to start a family in our region.

“Local governments should stand up and be heard in supporting the rights of our local LGBTI people… having LGBTI councillors is incredibly valuable to the mix of any local council.”

Councillor Christine Forster is currently running for Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney at the local council elections in September.

As an LGBTI councillor, she said it has provided her with the opportunity to build diversity and inclusivity in her local community.

“Through my position on Council, I championed the establishment of an LGBTI museum space on Oxford Street, and became an ambassador for Pride in Diversity’s program for lesbian, bisexual, and trans women in the workplace,” she said.

“I believe that as representatives of a community that has historically experienced prejudice we have a responsibility to stand up for other marginalised groups.”

At a forum for the Victorian Local Governance Association Rainbow Working Group earlier this year, former Adelaide City Councillor Robert Simms said the local government should make the most of its potential to promote LGBTI rights.

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” he told the forum.

“Certainly for me as a young man, I didn’t feel like I had many gay role models, so talking about sexual difference is a powerful thing and an important thing.

“Through local action, Councils can support the movement for equality and fight to remove discrimination against LGBTI people at a state and federal level.”

Victoria’s council general elections will take place later this year in October.

Mulcahy believes councils should work towards being more inclusive of the LGBTI people that make up their communities.

“Councils should aspire to provide services that are not only non-discriminatory but fully inclusive of the LGBTI people that make up their local community,” he said.

Find out more about becoming a council election candidate here.

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