Uproar in Brisbane City Council meeting over offensive petitions

brisbane city council petition
Image: Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner/Facebook

Uproar greeted discussion of two petitions during a Brisbane City Council meeting today. One petition, in particular, seems to directly contravene the council’s guidelines for submitting a petition. Those guidelines state a petition “Must be respectful, decorous and temperate and not contain any language which is offensive or likely to be offensive to any member of the public.”

One petition to council bears the title Ban LGBTIQ+ programs from Brisbane City Council Libraries. That petition requests that council permanently ban all LGBTIQ+ programs and activities from libraries. Additionally, the petitioner asks for the removal of all LGBTIQ+ literature from libraries. He also links drag storytime with paedophilia.

“A LGBTIQ+ program entitled “safe schools” which was found to be linked to paedophiles was recently banned by the federal government from entering the national school curriculum for similar reasons.”

The petitioner further claims the introduction of drag storytime “resulted in the death of an individual who took his own life because he was bullied and harassed by left-wing internet trolls because he dared speak his mind and protested against the introduction of LGBTIQ+ programs at council libraries.”

The second petition, now closed, is titled Adult entertainment is not suitable for children. That petition by Wendy Francis, Queensland director of the Australian Christian Lobby, erroneously equates drag storytime with adult entertainment. The Francis petition received 7,107 signatures, mostly from outside Brisbane. An opposing petition, posted by QNews publisher Richard Bakker, received 8,787 mainly local signatures.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said that in recent weeks he received hundreds of letters and emails attacking both himself and Brisbane City Council for supporting the LGBTIQ community.

“I haven’t backed down. I haven’t changed my view.”

The Mayor insisted he supported a tolerant community.

“I support the right of every member of that community to live free of hatred and discrimination.

“And that includes the LGBTQ community, that includes our multicultural community, that includes every single member of our community.”

However, the Mayor also said he refused to become a censor, describing the idea of censoring the petitions as ‘draconian’.

The Mayor said the council officers who uploaded the petitions sought legal advice over the language used. The legal advice stated that although offensive to some people, the language remained consistent with other petitions submitted to both the council and the state government previously.

Heated debate in the council chamber inspired shouts of ‘shame’ at various times from both the opposition and the public gallery.

Brisbane City Council urgency motion

Councillor Kara Cook then moved an urgency motion asking that the council immediately remove the two petitions and apologise for the offence and hurt caused. She further pointed out that the petitions were in breach of the council’s own guidelines. She described the petitions as a direct example of the abuse and prejudice the LGBTIQ community faces.

Councillor Cook’s motion was lost on party lines. Both Greens councillor Jonathan Sri and independent Nicole Johnston voting with Labor in support of taking down the petitions.

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