Auckland Council’s Governing Body, chaired by Mayor Len Brown, today formally approved the creation of a new Rainbow Community Advisory Panel.
The panel will be established over the coming months and will provide a local government platform from which to effectively address issues of significance to Auckland’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) community.
A report presented at today’s Governing Body meeting highlighted that GLBTI people continue to experience discrimination on an institutional and individual level as well as high levels of addictions, mental health issues and suicide. It also explained that people of diverse gender identity still face legal and social obstacles that impede their ability to lead their lives fully, safely and openly.
Public input was received by Lexie Matheson who spoke in support of the establishment of a Rainbow Advisory Panel. Lexie voiced her concern that transgender people are not represented or covered by current New Zealand Human Rights legislation. She said the new panel will allow her and other transgender people to finally have a voice.
Mayor Len Brown, who previously endorsed the creation of a Rainbow Panel at the 2014 Big Gay Out and again at this year’s event, was wholly supportive of a panel at today’s meeting.
Councillor Cathy Casey, Chair of the Community Development and Safety Committee says today’s decision has been a long time coming.
“For many years over successive councils the rainbow community in Auckland has been asking for formal representation in the same way other communities are represented. So I’m absolutely thrilled that today the council has truly acknowledged Auckland’s incredible diversity and finally given a formal voice to GLBTI Aucklanders. This is a historic day for our rainbow communities.”
She says the panel is a logical and necessary evolution of the Rainbow Door Reference Group established in 2010.
“The Rainbow Door Group has provided an invaluable service by offering an informal forum for both rainbow and mainstream service providers to meet with the council to discuss concerns, issues and opportunities. Today’s decision to establish a formal advisory panel takes this to the next level.”
The purpose of an advisory panel is to provide strategic advice to council on issues of importance to the community it supports, and to advise council on how to engage effectively with that community and its stakeholders.
Four demographic advisory panels were established in the first term of Auckland Council to represent disability, Pacific, ethnic and youth concerns – two by legislation and two on the initiative of the Mayor. A Seniors Advisory Panel has also recently been created to represent the interests of older Aucklanders.