‘Momentous day’ for gay community
There were tears in the Auckland Town Hall as city councillors voted on April 30 in favour of giving a voice to the gay and transgender community.
Auckland Council will now look at allocating $56,000 in its budget next month to establishing a Rainbow Advisory Panel, a group which will provide input on issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Controversy has surrounded the groups in recent months, with a spate of resignations of members who claim the panels are ineffectual and there only to rubber-stamp council decisions.
A number of councillors raised these concerns at Thursday’s vote, saying they could not support the spend at a time when there were questions over how effective the panels were.
But Lexie Matheson, a leader in the transgender community, told the meeting that her sector in particular was ‘‘at the bottom’’.
Transgender people had many issues getting equal access to housing, education healthcare, she said.
Mayor Len Brown stepped into the debate by offering to fund the panel out of the Mayoral Office’s budget until the end of the council’s term next year.
Matheson shed tears when the vote to proceed with setting up the panel was passed.
‘‘I’m rather overwhelmed to listen to the decision, to see democracy at work.
‘‘I think this is a momentous day for our community,’’ Matheson said.