PERTH’S new council will undergo transgender awareness training following lord mayor Basil Zempilas’s major on-air gaffe.
Mr Zempilas has made several apologies over insensitive comments he made on his October 28 radio show which prompted thousands of petitioners to call for all Pride events to be moved to neighbouring Vincent.
Mr Zempilas opened the November 3 council meeting with another apology: “I am sorry for what I said. I realise the pain those comments have caused”.
He said he’d met with several members of the LGBTIQ+ community including PrideWA to personally apologise, and had said sorry to city staff and councillors.
Gender identity quickly entered the practical realm at the meeting as the councillors discussed funding for a homeless womens’ shelter.
David Goncalves, East Perth local and past president of Rainbow Labor, attended public question time and asked if councillors “support the use of this shelter by trans women, who face higher rates of discrimination and are statistically at a higher rate of needing to access life-saving refuge and crisis shelters”.
Mr Zempilas replied: “The city recognises that members of the LGBTIQ+ community continue to experience discrimination and may not receive equitable access to the support services they require. It is our job to improve that situation.”
He referred the query
to the council’s community development general manager Anne Banks-McCallister who said “any individual who does identify as a woman absolutely is entitled to access the safe space for women”.
Mr Zempilas said the work on the new code of conduct starts this month and he had another meeting planned with LGBTIQ+ leaders this weekend.
He said his family had “had to go through a difficult time… because of what I did and what I said”.
by DAVID BELL