Brisbane City Council has officially rejected a petition from the LGBT community asking for the formation of a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Advisory Committee.
Despite attracting hundreds of signatures, Council informed the petition’s creator Phil Browne who heads the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group (BLAG) that a separate LGBTI Advisory Committee such as the ones seen in world cities like San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Chigaco, West Hollywood, Toronto and Vancouver is not necessary.
A number of Australian councils have also implemented LGBTI advisory committees or LGBTI action plans including Hobsons Bay City Council, Banyule City Council, Darebin City council, Moonee Valley Council, Maroondah City Council, Greater Geelong City Council and North Sydney Council, while the Victorian and ACT governments also have LGBTI Advisory Committees. Sydney City Council even goes a step further by employing a full-time LGBTI Project Officer.
In it’s official response, Brisbane City Council says it “has a range of initiatives and support mechanisms for LGBT communities, including the advisory role of the Inclusive Brisbane Board and Council’s visible support for LGBTI people, and therefore a separate LGBTI Advisory Committee is not required.”
Council’s Inclusive Brisbane Board includes an LGBTI representative, Dr Peter Black who has previously served as the President of the Brisbane Pride Festival.
BLAG representative Phil Carswell acknowledges that the council has made a number of significant steps towards fostering a closer relationship with the LGBTI community in recent years but sees this decision as a missed opportunity.
“Whilst it is good that the Brisbane City Council has flown a rainbow flag for IDAHOT this year and the Mayor has marched in the annual Pride March, it is essential to understand that LGBTI issues happen all year round and need a forum for timely discussion, and if necessary, action,” Mr Carswell said.
“Establishing a LGBTI Advisory Board with input from a wide range of knowledgeable and talented local LGBTI residents could bring great advances for our beautiful city which has already come far, but has a long way still to go.”
Both The Greens and Labor’s Lord Mayoral candidates Ben Pennings and Rod Harding have stated that their respective parties would fight to change Council’s position at next year’s council election.
Labor candidate Rod Harding said that he could see “nothing but merit in having an LGBTI advisory committee.”
‘More open engagement with the community will make Brisbane the most inclusive city it can be”, Mr Harding said.
Greens candidate Ben Pennings added that the Council needed to listen more to its constituents.
“A New World City is one that actively supports communication with and inclusion of marginalized people. Council hasn’t been listening closely to these communities and a formal advisory committee is a great first step in developing a better relationship of trust and inclusion,” Mr Pennings said.