A fortnight after a local Melbourne council voted down proposals for Rainbow Tick accreditation and the setting up of an LGBTQIA+ advisory committee, the decision was reversed.
The City of Port Phillip, comprises suburbs like St Kilda, Elwood, Albert Park, and is home to the upcoming Victorian Pride Centre and Melbourne’s annual Midsumma Pride march route on Fitzroy Street.
Local councillor Katherine Copsey had introduced a motion for Rainbow Tick accreditation for Council run services, establishing an LGBTIQA+ Advisory Committee, creating an LGBTQIA+ inclusive action plan, displaying flags on LGBTQIA+ awareness days and continuing support for and participation in the Pride and Midsumma Festival.
Given Port Phillip’s credentials as a staunch ally of the LGBTQI+ community, many expected the vote to sail through the council.
Vote Against LGBTQI+ Inclusion Was Invalid
That was not to be, as the motion proposed by Copsey faced stiff resistance in the council meeting on April 7 and was ultimately lost because of a split vote. The shocking results of the vote led to an outrage, with community organisations including the West St Kilda Residents Association, Community Alliance of Port Phillip, Victorian Pride Lobby, Bisexual Alliance Victoria and LGBTQI+ Jewish advocacy group Aleph Melbourne asking the council to reconsider its stand.
At a subsequent meeting on April 21 the earlier vote was declared as invalid. Mayor Louise Crawford said that subsequent to the earlier vote, legal advice was provided to the council “that identifies an error in the Governance Rules that, at the time, disallowed the Mayor from exercising a casting vote.”
The motion was reintroduced at the April 21 meeting, and was again put to vote. Mayor Crawford, Councillors Copsey, Tim Baxter, Heather Cunsolo and Peter Martin supported the motion. Deputy mayor Marcus Pearl, councillors Christina Sirakoff, Rhonda Clark voted against the motion. Councillor Andrew Bond who had abstained at the April 7 vote, this time sided with those who opposed the motion.
Following the passing of the LGBTQI+ inclusion measures, Copsey thanked “everyone who contacted us about these important inclusion measures for our community – today we are a step closer.”
🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈 WIN! 🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈 Very happy to report that the Rainbow Local Government motion just received majority support at…
Councillors Break Rainbow Pledge
Victorian Pride Lobby welcomed the new vote that would ensure that the Port Phillip City council would be able to embark on the path to ensuring that its services are inclusive of the LGBTQI+ communities. The passing of the motion was possible because of a councillor who was absent at the last meeting was present and voted in favour of the motion.
Questions also remained over the fact that some of the councillors who voted against the motion had in fact signed the Rainbow pledge before the October 2020 council elections. The pledged promising to support measures to make the councils LGBTQI+ inclusive.
While the same four councillors voted against the motion (👀), a councillor who was absent last time was able to give the motion the vote it needed to get over the line.
Thank you to all the councillors who voted in support of making their community a more inclusive place. (2/2)
— Victorian Pride Lobby (@VicPrideLobby) April 22, 2021
Greens councillor Tim Baxter had earlier told Star Observer that he was stumped by the fact that the councillors had broken their Rainbow pledges.
“I don’t ever want this community to feel their Council doesn’t support them. But after (the April 7 vote), I wouldn’t blame anyone from the LGBTIQ community for feeling like they’ve been taken for granted. That it’s ok to seek their votes during an election but not to deliver when it counts. I’m also concerned that this may be seen as licence to other councillors across Melbourne to break their pledges as well, which would be devastating,” Baxter who supported the motion, had said.