Councillor Equates LGBT Pride Flag To Nazi Flag

Councillor Equates LGBT Pride Flag To Nazi Flag
Image: Gannawarra Shire Councillor Garner Smith.

The discussion to fly the LGBTQI rainbow Pride flag over a Victorian regional shire headquarters turned ugly recently when a  councillor compared it to a Nazi symbol.

The Gannawarra Shire Council up in northern Victoria was one of eight local councils that was yet to respond to a petition by Victorian Pride Lobby as to whether they would fly the pride flag next year on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Yarran Ward Councillor Garner Smith called the petition “a political minefield” and moved an amendment to the motion, saying that the petition wasn’t “worth it.”

“Twenty-nine people could come up and say we should use the Nazi flag,” he said as reported by ABC.

Cr Smith’s amendment only received the support of one other councillor; thus it was voted down. The council has now agreed to receive the community’s petition to have the flag displayed at its Kerang offices.

Council’s Consideration Encouraging

Sean Mulcahy, the campaign lead for the Victorian Pride Lobby said that the council’s acceptance of the petition was encouraging.

“The comments from councillor Garner Smith [are] incredibly disappointing and the kind of homophobia that underpins them has no place in society,” he said to ABC.

“Cr Smith has likened flying the rainbow flag to flying the Nazi flag. I think it’s only appropriate that Cr Smith reflect on what he said and apologise to the community for it.”

Mayor Condem’s Nazi Comment

Gannawarra Shire Mayor Charlie Gillingham deemed Cr Smith’s comments as inappropriate.

“It was unfortunate he said that and went down that path,” he said.

“Cr Smith decided to have his say and that’s up to him but I didn’t support his comment as the mayor and I know [the] majority of councillors didn’t support it either.”

Civil Rights Organisation Speaks Up

The Star Observer spoke with the Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, Dr Dvir Abramovich who stated that it was time for “elected representatives [to] stop taking the easy way out by belittling and exploiting the Holocaust for shock value.”

“This divisive, inflammatory, and ignorant comparison deserves strong denunciation since it goes far beyond mere civil discourse and political rhetoric,” he said.

“No matter how strong one’s objections to flying the rainbow Pride flag to compare it to Hitler’s bestial regime and responsible for the extermination of six million Jews and millions of others only adds to the cynical debasement, twisting and abuse of the Holocaust so prevalent today.”

“To suggest that this flag is in any way similar to the crimes of the Nazis cheapens the suffering and deaths of millions and taints the council. We, therefore urge Councillor Smith to retract his hurtful remarks and refrain from employing such equations in the future. No discussion, as passionate as it may be, can justify making inappropriate and misguided analogies.”

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