Council flies flag for gender inclusivity
SURF Coast Shire council flew a transgender flag last week and will raise it to half-mast in November after it belatedly finalised a flag flying policy last month.
The council raised the transgender flag last Thursday, March 31, for International Transgender Day of Visibility, and will also acknowledge Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20.
Councillors voted to accept an updated flag policy at its March meeting, which included changes to include the transgender acknowledgements.
The policy outlines which flags the council flies at its Merrijig Drive offices and when, to acknowledge important events and causes to the Surf Coast community.
The policy allows for residents to make requests for flags they would like to see raised at different times of the year.
Cr Rose Hodge moved the motion last month and said the gesture would help inclusivity of transgender people and other minority groups in the shire.
“It’s only two days a year and I think it’s very important, symbolic for these people, and adds to the diversity of our area,” she said.
Cr Kate Gazzard agreed: “Trans are among the most vulnerable in our community. If flying a flag two days a year can help show them that they’re included and accepted in our community, and that can prevent one death or person feeling alone, then that’s worthwhile.”
The motion passed eight-one, with Cr Paul Barker in sole opposition.
Other flags the council will raise this year include RSL flags to commemorate Anzac Day, the Vietnam War and Remembrance Day, a rainbow flag during May, and a United Nations flag in October.
The Torres Strait Island flag will replace the council flag at the front entrance for Sorry Day, Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week events.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags will also fly at half-mast on January 26 in a show of solidarity to First Nations people.
Councillors had deferred the decision from the February meeting to clarify confusion around flag-flying for January 26.
Officers confirmed at the March meeting that the Australian flag could remain at its full height on that date even while the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags were lowered.