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Wednesday 08 October 2008

AKL City Council shuts down LGBT Forum

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News Staff - 8th October 2008

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At a meeting yesterday, Auckland City Council voted against retaining an annual LGBT forum which enables our communities to have a say in the Council's budget process, a decision which a gay councillor describes as "shocking and disappointing."

The City Vision-Labour Councillors at the meeting say they fought hard to retain the youth, Pacific Island Ministers, Union, Gay, Lesbian and transgender fora, but were unable to convince the majority Citizens and Ratepayers grouping who voted against a resolution to retain them.

Christopher Dempsey, the Chairperson of the Eden-Albert Community Board, is a City Vision member and is openly gay. He says he's hardly surprised at yesterday's decision: "Cits'n'Rat's have never been particularly keen to listen to other vibrant and diverse voices in the city, preferring instead to listen to their own mutterings and inanities and the shrill cries of the downtown business community and the developer community crying into their balance sheets while seeking corporate welfare payments," he tells

Dempsey had initiated the inclusion of the LGBT Network into the Council's budget process –known as the Annual Plan – "for the simple reason that LGBTT citizens are citizens and pay rates as well, and fully deserve to be recognised as worthy of being part of an inclusive Council process – and have their voices heard.

"There have been two Annual Plan forums held and I'm proud to say that both forums had the largest number of attendees. The direct result has been that diverse groups as the Prostitutes Collective, NZAF, and Rainbow Youth have made submissions to the Annual Plan, and have taken the opportunity to appear before Council," he explains.

"This is critical; visibility of marginalised groups means that Council could never deny the existence of those groups, nor deny their legitimacy as has happened in the recent past."

Each year, individuals can still write or email in their feedback on Auckland City Council's Annual Plan. Dempsey encourages LGBT Aucklanders to get involved in the decision-making process when they can.

"For Council to be exposed to the different voices within our communities, particularly those communities that have been disenfranchised, to recognise and acknowledge those communities makes for a stronger and sensitive Council, and for a stronger, prouder more inclusive City – something that benefits all citizens, not merely the select few."