Wheeler's rainbow flag motion successful: "Time to move the Hawkesbury into the twenty-firs

The #Hawkesbury LGBTIQ+ community celebrate a win today as last night's ordinary council meeting resulted in a vote for the rainbow flag being flown each Mardi Gras festival outside the Hawkesbury City Council premises.

Danielle Wheeler led the motion in favour of flying the flag as a symbol of support for the LGBTIQ+ community, backed most notably by Councillors Calvert, Garrow and Rasmussen; all three speaking with informed sensitivity on the issue.

This step forward for the Hawkesbury comes six months after new Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett took the helm, and longer again since former mayor Kim Ford told supporters of the motion to "go to buggery", a particularly crude attack which now makes this victory so much sweeter for those who value the human rights of people of sexual and gender diversity.

Last night's motion revisits previous attempts by Labor councillor Barry Calvert which were met with resistance by the council of the time.

Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler's opening statement said, "It is every person's right to live free of discrimination. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a fabulous and colourful celebration of the desire to enact that right. We have a poor track record of supporting same-gender attracted people in the Hawkesbury. That track record took a dramatic turn for the better last year when the previous council voted to support marriage equality, and when this council voted to support Safe Schools...

"High suicide rates and poor mental health are far too common in the LGBTIQ community. As leaders of our community we have to do everything possible to make members of our community feel welcome and accepted. It's time to move the Hawkesbury into the twenty-first century. We're not a conservative backwater. We're a community that's ready to make its mark.

"Businesses like Loxley [on Bellbird Hill] already make same gender couples welcome for weddings, and there's a huge market here. The Blue Mountains are already marketing themselves as the "pink" tourism capital of Sydney. Let's not let them have it all. But before we can market our lifestyle, natural beauty and heritage, we have to lead the way by showing acceptance. This is really a very minor way to show that acceptance to the people who live here... it's minor to us, but as you've already heard, it's huge to them."

Councillor Patrick Conolly's arguments against the motion included a claim that the community has not made it clear that the gesture is wanted, and also questioning the role of council in addressing social issues. He was a firm vote against the motion and his email address is provided below.

Mayor Lyons-Buckett concluded the discussion by saying, "The flag is a symbol, but it's a symbol of inclusiveness, and I think that's something so important that we can put out there. If we can make one person feel safe and supported, then that's a really good thing that we can have done."

Links: Former mayor tells supporters of LGBTIQ+ rights to "go to buggery"

Email Patrick Conolly to reassure him that the community supports the rights of LGBTIQ+ residents to live free of discrimination: Email address: patrickconolly@hawkesburycouncillor.com.au

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