This week a 90-meter rainbow footpath which runs along the area of Prince Alfred Park known “Equality Green” was unveiled in Surry Hills.
But its reveal, through a photoshoot on the Lord Mayor’s personal Facebook page, has raised concern among other councillors.
The footpath was painted in rainbow colours in celebration of marriage equality following a suggestion by the Surry Hills Business Partnership. When the idea was brought before the City of Sydney council in November, it had unanimous support.
Equality Green in Prince Alfred Park is a significant location for the pride path as it’s where 30,000 people gathered to hear the results of Australia’s same sex marriage plebiscite.
“When Jackie and I visited the site today we were reminded of the overwhelming emotions of that day in 2017, of elation and relief,” she said.
“Elation because the majority of Australians had voted YES, and relief that the horrible and distressing time of the brutal “No” campaign and the postal survey was over.”
But when the much anticipated footpath was revealed this week it wasn’t through council social media pages or a public opening, it was through a promotional photoshoot for Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s social media page.
Dr. Phelps said neither she nor Christine Forster, who is also a member of the LGBTQI+ community and was also a key figure in the marriage equality campaign, were invited to share in the moment it was revealed.
“Christine and I were both surprised to find out about the completion of this Council project via a photo op on Clover Moore’s social media,” she said.
“This is an issue Jackie and I worked on for two decades and you would think, at the very least, that the two LGBTQI councillors would have been invited to what is an extremely important and emotional place for us and our families.”
Unusual but not unprecedented
“Projects like this are City of Sydney projects. All councillors assess the merits, and vote on them and we take an interest in the impact they have on our various communities,” she said.
“Yet they were “launched” and opened by Clover Moore without other councillors even being told about it, let alone included.”
When approached for comment, Ms. Forster agreed with Dr. Phelps’ sentiment and said “it’s a pattern of behaviour for the Lord Mayor to exclude opposition councillors from such opportunities.”
“The rainbow is supposed to be for the entire community, not just Clover’s cronies,” she told City Hub.
The timing of these private openings in the lead up to the City of Sydney council election, which will be held on Saturday 4 September 2021, has also raised eyebrows among Mayor Moore’s challengers.
Dr. Phelps said while “there is no doubt that Clover Moore has been a strong ally for the LGBTQI community,” the use of Equality Green and the rainbow path for Ms. Moore’s personal political purposes was offensive to her and many others.
“The rainbow flag is meant to be a universal symbol of inclusion. Inclusion is more than a word in a policy document, it is about attitudes and actions.”
In NSW are held every 4 years but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 elections were postponed. Earlier this month Dr. Phelps announced she would be challenging Ms. Moore for the top position and Ms. Forster announced she would be stepping back from council.