Town of Bassendean to fly rainbow flag in place of own flag for 3 months

Clr Sarah Quinton, Mayor Renee McClennan and former councillor Paul Bridges with local residents. Picture: Bruce Hunt
Clr Sarah Quinton, Mayor Renee McClennan and former councillor Paul Bridges with local residents. Picture: Bruce Hunt

THERE was a motion and then emotion at the Town of Bassendean last night.

The rainbow gay pride flag is to replace the Town’s flag for three months from this afternoon.

The gesture came about after a motion from councillor Sarah Quinton was supported at Tuesday’s council meeting.

It was the third attempt at having the council fly the rainbow flag after former councillor Paul Bridges had tried twice before.

Cr Quinton made the latest proposal in light of the recent ‘yes’ vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey.

But she said the motion, “in some ways”, wasn’t “really about flags” or “same-sex marriage”, it was about “empathy”.

She became emotional as she addressed council.

“For the past three months, same sex couples have had their lives dissected and scrutinised by the entire country,” she said.

“Flying this flag will not affect those who don’t support same sex marriage. But for the people who have just experienced three months of blatant discrimination, it will mean the world.”

Cr Jai Wilson was also emotional when he seconded the motion and showed council the flag, paid for by councillors to avoid costs to ratepayers.

The motion passed 6-1, with deputy mayor Bob Brown the only one who voted against it.

Cr Brown supported the flying of the flag and congratulated Cr Quinton on her compassion, but thought council should install a new flagpole specifically for celebrating special events.

He proposed the idea as an amendment to the motion, but Cr Quinton did not accept the amendment and it lapsed.

Councillor and former mayor John Gangell spoke against the motion but ultimately voted in favour, and said he would “not stand in the way”.

While he referred to being an openly gay man himself, he believed such a gesture was “not part and parcel the business of the council”.

“Certainly my sexuality does not define me,” he said.

Earlier, former councillor and deputy mayor Mike Lewis used public question time to ask why there had not been any consultation with residents on changing the Town flag.

Mayor Renee McLennan said the local electorate’s strong ‘yes’ vote in the same-sex marriage survey was evidence of the community’s support.

Mr Lewis said the same-sex marriage survey results and the changing of the flag were “two quite separate areas”.

The flag will fly from 5pm today.

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