THE City of Casey councillor who will introduce a motion in tonight’s council meeting, which calls for a ban on council to do, offer or promote anything LGBTI-related, has defended her intentions.
Cr Rosalie Crestani’s (pictured above) motion says sexual orientation is a “private issue”, and that to address it would be “special treatment” when council “should serve all residents equally”.
According to the 2011 Census, the City of Casey — located in the south-east of Melbourne’s metropolitan area — is the most populous local government area in Victoria and the seventh most populous in Australia.
Crestani, who is a member of the Rise Up Australia party and an upper house candidate in next weekend’s Victorian state election, said she wanted her motion to succeed because she did not want council to be favouring anyone.
She said that by singling out the LGBTI community and offering services or promoting events that cater to them, council was also discriminating against the heterosexual community.
“It shouldn’t be one group over another,” she told the Star Observer during a phone interview today.
“I just want equality for all. By singling someone out, you’re paving the way for discrimination.
“We are continuing to discriminate against the heterosexual community if we go down that path.”
Crestani also told the Star Observer that she believes City of Casey was not “a place to discuss sexual orientation”, a matter she thinks belongs “behind bedroom doors”.
Recently the City of Port Phillip, which is also in Melbourne’s metropolitan area, was awarded the Rainbow Tick — an accreditation developed by GLVH that was awarded to the council for participating in LGBTI awareness training with revising policies and procedures to be more inclusive and LGBTI-friendly.
Crestani also spruiked her work with disabled people and her work on mental health issues, but told the Star Observer she did not believe the LGBTI community was marginalised.
“They are equal. If we singled them out, we’re also isolating them,” she said.
She also said that if residents wanted LGBTI-specific services such as GLVH, they had “every democratic right” to access them — but outside the City of Casey.
When pressed with questions about the lack of marriage equality, the legal loopholes a trans* person must navigate while gender transitioning, homophobia and transphobia, and the disproportionate rates of mental health issues among LGBTI people — especially young people living in the suburbs — Crestani hung up on the phone.
Melbourne-based LGBTI youth advocacy group Minus18 said Crestani’s motion was “a massive step in the wrong direction”.
“Her motion would see the City of Casey stop advocating for its LGBTI residents,” partnerships manager Tim Christodoulou said.
“It would see the great work of organisations like Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria removed from all council buildings. It would see all council staff stop undertaking essential diversity training to better engage with Casey’s LGBTI residents. It would leave LGBTI residents without a voice and without a council that stands up for them.”
Christodoulou also expressed concern at what sort of impact Crestani’s motion would have on Casey’s young LGBTI residents.
“If Cr Crestani’s motion succeeds, it will send a very clear, very loud message to LGBTI young people living in Casey – that your sexual and gender identity is wrong,” he said.
“The impact that message could have on a young person coming to terms with their sexuality or their gender identity can’t be overstated – it would be devastating.”
Christodoulou added that some of Minus18’s biggest supporters come from local governments.
“The role that councils play in building inclusive, accepting communities is vital, and it’d be great to see people like Cr Crestani devoting more of their time to engaging the local community rather than shutting out and marginalising a major part of it,” he said.
On Twitter, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby expressed hope that the motion would fail, thanks to the “inclusive open minds” of other City of Casey councillors.