Wagga council’s decision to enter its own float in the city’s Mardi Gras parade has been praised by LGBTI advocates.
Rainbow Riverina events coordinator Holly Conroy said it sent a great message to have the council take part in the parade.
“They had already sent a good message by approve a grant for the event, and this reinforces that fact that Wagga is a very open and inclusive community,” she said.
“With the council backing it, that puts a lot of weight behind the message of the festival.”
Ms Conroy said the parade had 45 floats registered and would include about 1000 participants next month.
Council staff requested that Wagga City enter an official float.
Staff will prepare a float entry involving two utility vehicles, a generator and a sound system.
Council general manager Peter Thompson said he, like many others, was waiting for the surprise of seeing the float for the first time in the parade.
“That’s bearing in mind that it’s a family friendly event and I’m sure the council float will be something that the community can be proud of,” he said.
Ms Conroy said she encouraged all Wagga businesses and organisations to enter a float and she hoped to see official police and Australian Defence Force floats at the next Mardi Gras.
Kirsti Miller said the float was a sign that Wagga had changed a lot since she left the city in 1989 prior to her gender transition.
“It’s Wagga living up to its name as the ‘City of Good Sports’,” she said.
“I’ve gone from sporting Hall-of-Famer ‘Warren’ to Kirsti, and Wagga’s changed more than me.”
Ms Miller said she was now considering moving back to the city permanently.
Former councillor Ray Goodlass said it was “a very good step forward” for council.
“I think it’s a sign that council is becoming much more inclusive of the population that is diverse in its sexuality and gender identity”.
When the council voted on Monday night to approve a float, Cr Paul Funnell spoke out against using ratepayers’ money on the event.
“I’m not entering into a debate; I’m simply putting forward my personal opposition to this and on behalf of the people who don’t support this,” Cr Funnell said during the meeting.
Mr Goodlass said he believed it was within the council’s responsibilities to sponsor the Mardi Gras and enter a float.
“Council is meant to represent the entire community,” he said.
“If you do not support people of different sexuality and gender diversity, then you are consigning some of your constituents to second-class status.”
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