Council remains neutral on marriage debate

Brimbank council has opted to maintain a neutral stance on same sex marriage, but is supporting community members feeling unease as a result of the debate.

Australia is in the midst of a postal survey asking if the Marriage Act should be altered to allow couples in same sex relationships to marry.

Noting her concern for Brimbank’s LGBTIQ community, Cr Virginia Tachos moved a motion of urgent business at last week’s council meeting. She asked that the council consider a motion of support for the LGBTIQ community.

“As elected leaders, we have a responsibility to protect the rights of the LGBTIQ community,” she said. “We need to reach out, listen and show that we value the mental and social wellbeing of all members of the community.

“The denial of equality and the harmful opposition is impacting the lives of families in Brimbank, particularly young people.”

Cr Victoria Borg seconded the motion.

“We have a responsibility to support these people as elected leaders,” she said.

But councillors were split, with Cr Daniel Allen expressing concern that offering support to the LGBTIQ community could see the council perceived as taking sides.

“I’ve heard that people on both sides of this debate are being adversely affected by this vote and if we’re to offer support to one specific community affected, it could be construed as taking sides,” he said.

Following a lengthy debate, councillors opted to amend the wording of the motion and extend support to all Brimbank community members adversely affected during this time of debate, not just those of the LGBTIQ community.

While the council’s position remains neutral, Brimbank mayor John Hedditch said its Social Justice Charter 2008 would be reviewed in coming months.

“The Social Justice Charter recognises that a number of barriers need to be overcome to achieve social equality,” Cr Hedditch said. “Council has no official stance on the matter, but will review the charter in late 2017.”

Final results of the postal vote will be released on Wednesday, November 15.