By ALLISON HORE
The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby have expressed their concern about the delays to the process of establishing the Inner West pride centre.
First put forward to council in 2017 by councillor Anna York, the Inner West Council began investigating options to establish a pride centre in 2018. Council hopes such a centre would be an inclusive hub for the Inner West’s “vibrant” LGBTIQ community.
In 2020, the Newtown Town Hall, currently home to the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, was earmarked as a suitable location for the centre. However concrete moves to make Sydney’s first pride centre a reality have been slow.
Expressions of interest for LGBTIQ organisations to pitch a plan to manage and deliver the pride centre closed in March. But confidential documents brought before council this week suggest no suitable organisation has been found. Only one organisation, the House of Pride and Empowerment, made a bid to manage the centre but their application was deemed “non conforming” and thrown out by the selection panel.
Jack Whitney, co-convener of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, told the Inner West Independent the delays to the delivery of the pride centre were concerning.
“Delays in this vital service creates reservations in the community that the ever-important Pride Centre will never happen,” he explained.
“This is very concerning as the trust that has been built will potentially be lost, and the goodwill will be diminished”.
Community need and support
The lobby held an action and spoke at Tuesday’s council meeting to reaffirm their support for, and the community need for, a pride centre in the area. And they’re not alone. In a council survey, 87 percent of respondents said it was “very or extremely important” to have a Pride Centre in the Inner West.
Mr. Whitney worries the openly homophobic views expressed by Liberal Councillor Julie Passas may be dampening the relationship between council and the LGBTIQ community and stimying progress on the centre.
“The Lobby is concerned that harmful views held by Clr Julie Passas, may hold back the progress of the creation of the Pride Centre… this is someone who recently compared the Rainbow flag to the ISIS flag,” he said.
If established, the pride centre will run a number of wellbeing and health support programs for LGBTIQ people in the local area. Some of the issues they hope the centre will address include healthcare, social isolation, bullying and harassment.
With a suitable party yet to put their hand up to run the centre, Mr. Whitney said the next step for council to ensure the centre gets off the ground is making sure it has the funding and “confirming the tendering process.”
“We looked at the tendering process and it wasn’t very clear, so I think they need to be clearer around the operational process,” Mr. Witney said.
“We’re here to work with the council.”