The Taylor Square rainbow crossing is at risk of removal after the state roads minister made comments suggesting the state government will not seek to override the crossing’s scheduled removal at the end of the month.
In a response to a question on the crossing’s status from Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann, Nationals MP Duncan Gay raised the issue of road safety and compared the LGBTI community’s use of the rainbow as an emblem with the colours of a football team.
“When you approve something in a colour, you approve a political statement and if you allow colours for one thing, you leave yourself open for many others. Well-known sporting teams may want a crossing as well – we could have red and green for the Rabbitohs, maybe,” Gay joked.
“I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have a political statement for Mardi Gras, but our key prerequisite is to maintain road safety,” he added.
Gay criticised City of Sydney Council for pushing ahead with the project. Council approved a $35,000 budget hike on the project on the night of February 25 to pay for the crossing’s removal at the end of March.
“We approved a rainbow crossing at Oxford Square (sic) as a trial – I am a generous man. We indicated to the council at the time that we were willing to pay for a rainbow crossing on the footpath, but they didn’t want to do that and now they’ve decided to blame everyone else but themselves,” Gay said.
Council originally approved the establishment of two permanent rainbow crossings at Taylor Square, but Roads and Maritime Services stipulated that the crossing be temporary.
Faehrmann said Gay’s comments showed he “doesn’t understand the significance” of the crossing to the LGBTI community.
“I don’t think the minister was being intentionally offensive, but his belittling of the LGBTI community by comparing it to a sporting team disregards the battles hard-fought for equality on Oxford St. The rainbow crossing is about more than pretty colours on the road – it’s about celebrating and supporting this diverse and resilient community,” Faehrmann said.
Gay has referred any decisions on the crossing to the NSW Centre for Road Safety.
A petition to keep the Rainbow Crossing by independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich has hit 10,000 signatures.