Lord Mayor of Parramatta John Chedid has formally apologised to queer youth counselling service Twenty10 for the ‘Rediscover the River’ incident on Saturday.
The lord mayor’s office assured Twenty10 in a letter that the views expressed at the event were not those of the Lord Mayor or his staff, as well as praising the work Twenty10 does in the Parramatta area and extending an invitation to discuss the matter.
On Saturday, Twenty10 left the Rediscover the River community festival in Parramatta after being asked by one of Chedid’s advisors to remove a sign the mayor’s office deemed “offensive”.
The banner advertised Twenty10 as offering “support services for gay, lesbian, transgender, same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people” and displayed the Twenty10 website address.
The apology comes after Parramatta City Council faced a storm of criticism from people outraged over the incident. An online petition demanding the Lord Mayor’s office issue an apology has received more than 12,000 signatures since Saturday.
Twenty10 acting managing director Terence Humphreys said the organisation was “thrilled” at the apology and the support Twenty10 received from the community.
“It was really the young people online who shared our initial post who sparked everything off. People have been just outstanding,” Humphreys said.
Twenty10 intends to take up the Lord Mayor’s invitation to request that Parramatta Council staff undergo training on sexuality and gender discrimination issues.
In a statement released on Monday Parramatta Council emphasised that “at no stage did the Lord Mayor or council staff ask Twenty10 to quit their participation at the event” and claimed they had received numerous complaints about the banner.
Parramatta City Council is due to issue another statement on the incident shortly.