‘Mo­men­tous day’ for gay com­mu­nity

Central Leader - - NEWS - By MARIA SLADE

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.

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