Moreland City Council, which includes the bustling inner city suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg, has voted to fly the rainbow flag for four months every year. The newly elected council also voted to fly the transgender and intersex flags on days significant to the community. The council voted 6-5 in favour of the motion on Wednesday evening.

“I’m pleased that Moreland Council will fly the rainbow flag for four months a year, and that other important groups of our community will also see the Council fly flags representative of them in solidarity with their victories and struggles,” openly gay first-time Greens councillor Adam Pulford, who moved the motion, told Star Observer after the vote.

The council has four flag poles located at the Coburg Town Hall. The Australian flag, Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag are flown all through the year. The fourth flagpole was used to fly the flags of different communities on their days of significance.

Pulford’s original motion, which he introduced at the first council meeting on Wednesday, sought that the rainbow flag should be flown all year round, except for days of cultural significance of other communities. The motion also included the flying of the transgender flag on March 31 for Trans Day of Visibility, during Trans Awareness Week in November and on November 20 for Trans Day of Remembrance. The intersex flag would fly on October 26 for Intersex Awareness Day and November 8 for Intersex Solidarity Day. Then finally, the West Papua Morning Star Flag on December 1 each year.

During the meeting, Mayor Annalivia Carli-Hannan moved to amend the motion to allow for the rainbow flag to be flown from September to December, with the Suffragettes and Eureka (trade union movement) flags for four months each in the earlier part of the year. These amendments passed, as did further changes to fly the East Timorese flag on November 28 and the national flags of the top five ethnic groups in Moreland on their national days.

Mayor Carli-Hannan, councillors Pulford, Angelica Panopoulos, Mark Riley, James Conlan and Sue Bolton voted in favour of the motion. Whereas councillors Oscar Yildiz, Helen Pavlidis-Mihalakos, Helen Davidson, Lambros Tapinos and Milad El-Habibi opposed it.

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 “Flying the rainbow flag is a simple way for Moreland Council to celebrate the strength, colour and joy that LGBTIQA+ people contribute to the broader community. It is also a way for the Council to show its solidarity with members of the LGBTIQA+ community in our continued fight for justice and our rights,” said Pulford.

Pulford explained that it was his aim to have such a highly visible representation of the community to not just demonstrate the inclusive credentials of the council, but also to support the LGBTQI community.

“LGBTIQA+ people, particularly trans and non-binary people, continue to face violence, prejudice and discrimination. Right now there is a live debate in Victoria on whether we should ban harmful sexual orientation and gender identity conversion practices,” pointed out Councillor Pulford.

Moreland, which comprises the inner northern suburbs of Brunswick, Coburg, Broadmeadows and Pascoe Vale, had returned a 70% ‘’Yes’ vote in the Marriage Equality national vote. Four out of the 11 Moreland councillors who were elected in October 2020 are openly gay.

“I love Moreland’s progressive and diverse community, and I believe Council has a responsibility to ensure everybody feels welcome in Moreland. I’m proud to be queer and I’m proud to have been elected to represent the Moreland community on Council,” said Pulford.

But that did not stop attacks by some over Pulford’s original proposal to fly the rainbow flag all round the year. Councillor Yiddiz suggested a “conflict of interest” in a radio interview on 3AW.

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 On social media one resident sought to claim that Pulford had a conflict of interest on the issue as he was openly gay. Others supported Pulford and commented that perhaps now councillors who owned cars or those who had the ability to hear would have to declare conflict of interest when the council debates parking spaces or noise pollution.

After tasting success on the  issue of flying the rainbow, transgender and intersex flags, Councillor Pulford has a much broader plan for the community.

“Decisions made by Council impact our lives and shape our community. Flying the flag is one step, however Council must also continue its leadership role in ensuring all venues, businesses and community groups in Moreland are inclusive and accessible for everyone.”

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