TAYLOR Square’s rainbow flag, which towers 18m above Sydney’s LGBTI-centric Darlinghurst neighbourhood, will remain in place allaying fears it might have been torn down and replaced with an artwork.
At a City of Sydney meeting last night, councillors overwhelming voted to approve a proposal, tabled by Liberal councillor Christine Forster, that the temporary landmark should become a permanent monument to the area’s LGBTI community.
“I have had many representations from members of the community about what a terrific symbol it is at the spiritual heart of Sydney’s gay and lesbian community,” Forster said.
While there have been repeated calls for almost a decade for a permanent rainbow flag, the proposal only received the green light last year on the proviso it was a temporary measure until an artwork – championed by Lord Mayor Clover Moore – was placed in Taylor Square to celebrate the area’s LGBTI heritage.
Concerns the $52,000 structure was indeed destined to be removed were raised last October when its installation occurred with little fanfare and again last month when Moore referred to the flagpole as “temporary”.
In addition, earlier this month the Lord Mayor did not answer specific questions from the Star Observer on the landmark’s future.
At last night’s meeting, Moore noted council had displayed hundreds of rainbow flags from lampposts during consecutive Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festivals but said she could not recall referring to the Taylor Square flagpole as temporary.
However, Forster insisted that the “pointed” comment was publicly made by the Lord Mayor at a February ceremony at Sydney Town Hall to launch the Mardi Gras season.
“As a gesture to the community, and because we’ve already spent ratepayers money, we should deem it to be permanent [and] have this flag fly alongside the artwork to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras,” Forster said.
Deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis said all councillors – including Moore and those allied to her – were now in “furious agreement” about the landmark’s retention and proposed an amendment that its future should not be affected by any new artwork.
Labor councillor Linda Scott, whose motion on the issue was knocked back in 2013, said it should not have taken so long for the flag to be approved.
“I’m so proud to see the giant rainbow flag become a permanent fixture on Sydney’s skyline,” she said.
“After a decade of inaction, there is so much more [the] Lord Mayor and city should be doing for the GLBTI community and for the businesses and residents of Oxford St and surrounds.”
Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich told the Star Observer that council were to be congratulated for their continued support for the community and he looked forward to seeing the eventual artwork.
NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Justin Koonin said the flag was a global symbol and it was “entirely appropriate” to have it permanently recognised at a location so closely associated with the struggles of Sydney’s LGBTI community
“We thank the councillors and look forward to having both the rainbow flag and a permanent artwork installed to celebrate what LGBTI people have brought to NSW,” he said.