Over 251 candidates running for  local council election in Victoria have pledged to support issues that are of importance to the LGBTQI community if they are elected.

The candidates signed the Rainbow Local Government pledge that says that they will support Rainbow Tick accreditation for council-run services, the establishment of LGBTQI advisory committees and an action plan for the community, flying the rainbow flag on important days, and participating in local pride events.

“We are really stoked to see a big uptake and will be lobbying the council where there have been zero pledgers,” Nevena Spirovska, co-convenor of the Victorian Pride Lobby that is coordinating the campaign told Star Observer.

There are 80 councils that will be holding elections for the local councils in Victoria in October 2020. The elections will be held by post. In the one week since VPL launched Rainbow Local Government 251 candidates have signed full pledges, with a further 270 signing part pledges. There are 65 openly LGBTQI candidates and 29 councils with an openly LGBTQI candidate.

Of the 251 candidates who have signed the pledge, 65 are openly LGBTQI candidates. At the last elections around 42 out candidates had contested the council elections and according to the Lobby around 12 were elected to the local councils. That was 2% of all councillors. The Lobby is encouraging more out LGBTQI candidates to run for public office.

 “LGBTQI councillors have a proven track record of working across the political divide to achieve tangible outcomes for their local communities. They can become an important source of education and awareness on LGBTQI issues for other councillors and the community alike,” said Spirovska.

Michael Leaney, was one of the openly gay candidates who ran for council elections last time and became a first term councillor of Baw Baw Shire Council. Contrary to the usual preconceptions about country Victoria, his sexuality wasn’t a big issue in his ward.

“As the first openly gay councillor ever elected to my shire, I have proven that sexuality is not really a big issue in this part of country Victoria. I’ve been living in a remote, tiny town for 22 years, and while there have been a few incidents of homophobia, in the main people simply don’t give two hoots. I’m openly gay and have never hidden my sexuality, but clearly it’s not an issue for the voters in my ward who just wanted the best person to represent them. The fact I’m in the room with little fuss says a lot,” Leaney said in a statement.

To find out if the candidate in your council has taken Rainbow Local Government pledge, check with your postcode at www.rainbowvotes.com.au

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