The Sunshine Coast Council has refused to fly a rainbow flag on the council’s flag poles on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17.
Although Brisbane City Council and neighbouring Noosa Council have agreed to fly rainbow flags on the day, the Sunshine Coast Council has declined to do so, citing the council’s flag policy which states that only the Queensland, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Sunshine Coast Council and Sunshine Coast Airport flags are permitted to be flown on the council’s flagpoles.
“To move outside this policy would open council up to requests from many organisations,” a council spokesperson said.
Members of the Sunshine Coast Rainbow Network, who requested the council fly the flag, will on Tuesday rally outside the council chambers to protest the refusal. For details, visit the event’s Facebook page.
Sunshine Coast Rainbow Network’s director Fiona Anderson said the group was “gutted” by the refusal.
“We got told it was against the flag policy, good luck and have a great day,” she said.
Sunshine Coast Council CEO Mark Whittaker said in a statement the council had used its website and media channels to promote IDAHOT and would encourage residents and staff to wear rainbow- or purple-coloured clothes next Tuesday to raise awareness of the day.
“It’s a day to focus on this part of our community and to let as many people know why challenging homophobia and transphobia is so important,” he said.
Ms Anderson said raising the rainbow flags is “a symbolic gesture which costs councils nothing, but it’s a powerful symbol of acceptance and inclusivity” and urged the council to review the decision.
“The solution is simple. If your policy prevents you from fully supporting a marginalised group in the community, it’s time to change the policy,” she said.
An IDAHOT Market Day is being held at the University of the Sunshine Coast on May 17, from 10am to 2pm, featuring live entertainment including a discussion forum, a group photo and a screening of the 2014 movie “Pride”.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Noosa Council has announced they will fly rainbow flags on May 17 to mark IDAHOT. Somerset Regional Council will also fly a rainbow flag on the day.
Several events are being held in Brisbane on both Sunday May 15 and Tuesday May 17, and Brisbane City Council will fly a rainbow flag on City Hall and illuminate both the Story Bridge and Victoria Bridge in rainbow colours.
Brisbane City Council will also move a motion supporting marriage equality at their meeting on Tuesday evening.
The Queensland Police Service will fly a rainbow flag on their Brisbane headquarters, and Queensland Ambulance Service this week confirmed they will follow suit with a rainbow flag at their Kedron complex next Tuesday.
“QAS is very happy to promote diversity within its workforce and in the broader community,” a QAS spokesperson said.