MORE than 30 LGBTI people plan to stand for council during Victoria’s local government elections next month.

The 34 candidates will stand in over 15 councils across inner city, suburban, and regional areas in the state.

There are currently only five sitting councillors from a pool of 618 that openly identify as LGBTI, all of whom are men.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) spokesperson Sean Mulcahy hopes the number of elected LGBTI councillors will double and there will be an increase in gender diversity among them.

“LGBTI councillors have a proven track record of working across the political divide to achieve tangible outcomes for their local communities,” he said.

“They can become an informal source of education and awareness on LGBTI issues for other councillors and the community alike.”

Current Casey councillor Rafal Kaplon said his experience as an LGBTI councillor has been a positive one with a few ups and downs.

“Sexual orientation hasn’t posed a problem for me in carrying out my duties,” he told the Star Observer.

One of the toughest issues Kaplon had to face during the current term was a motion in Casey Council against LGBTI training for council officers.

“Up until that point I’d always considered my sexuality a private matter and not relevant to council, but at that moment I had to stand up against what was being said and decided to publicly ‘out’ myself.

“So were there challenges? Yes. Did they define my service for the community? Definitely not.”

Current candidate for Yarra City Council Luke Creasey believes governments of all levels make decisions that affect the LGBTI community.

“I believe in the principle of ‘nothing about us, without us’ so we need to be right there working as decision makers,” he told the Star Observer.

“My background has lent me a deep sense of social justice and an understanding of the value of government to vulnerable groups.”

Current candidate for Warrnambool City Council Thomas Campbell said its fantastic to be adding more diversity to his region.

“People are finding their voice, being true to themselves, and to the rest of the community,” he told the Star Observer.

“There are still pockets of absurdity and nastiness which show up, from politicians, from a car passing or by obscure letters to the editor.

“But I’m glad to see our local community rise above a lot of the nonsense, hopefully we continue on that pathway.”

If you’re in Victoria find out more about next month’s council elections.

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