FOR the first time in its history the Parramatta City Council will fly the rainbow flag.

The council will raise the flag at Centenary Square in Parramatta on May 17 to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The event is significant because the council has not had a great track record with LGBTI issues.

In 2013 the council courted controversy after it forced LGBTI youth support organisation Twenty10 to remove a sign that contained “offensive” language at a community festival.

At the time Twenty10 demanded an apology from then Mayor John Chedid after one of his advisors demanded a sign reading: “support services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people, their families and communities” be removed, leaving young volunteers very upset.

Cr Chedid eventually apologised for the incident but not before Independent Councillor Paul Gerrard told the Sydney Morning Herald removing the sign was the correct thing to do as the festival wasn’t the place for “semi-political” groups.

“They shouldn’t have been there, in the same fashion Right to Life weren’t there,” he told SMH.

“Whether one is for or against the issues the gays were pushing on that occasion, that was not the place to be doing it.”

Despite not being voted on in an official council meeting, a council spokesperson said it decided to fly the rainbow flag this year on the request of partner organisations.

“Council has provided support to IDAHOT events since 2011, with an official council resolution in February 2014 formally endorsing the day,” the spokesperson said.

“The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia will be marked by an event in Centenary Square in partnership with Parramatta Police, ACON Health and The Parramatta Queer Forum (PQF), a local interagency which organises IDAHOT events.”

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