Perth’s Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas applauded at PrideFEST opening

Perth’s Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas was given a resounding round of applause at the opening of Perth’s PrideFEST on Friday evening.

Taking to the stage at the Northbridge Piazza the Lord Mayor acknowledged that there would be few people in the audience who would be unaware of his controversial comments from just over two years ago.

The Lord Mayor thanked Pride WA for inviting him to the opening event and acknowledged that he was joined by the newly appointed Deputy Lord Mayor Liam Gobbert, and that Councilor Clive Bevan and the city’s CEO Michele Reynolds were also in attendance.

“To all of you I want to say thank you also for having me here tonight. I don’t think it is a secret, or not unwell known, that a couple of years ago on the radio I made some comments that were both inappropriate, but more than that, were quite hurtful.”

The Lord Mayor said that while the apology he made in the aftermath of his comments was genuine, he remained well aware that his comments had been damaging and hurtful not only to members of the LGBTIQA+ community, but also the community in general.

“I wat to say thank you for accepting my apology, thank you for allowing me on this journey, that you for opening your hearts to allow me to always have an open and more appropriate mind whenever I’m on the radio, on the TV, or behind a microphone.

“What is really important, as I often say, is the journey that we go on. And although my journey with the LGBTIQA+ community as Lord Mayor did not get off to the best start – all because of me – I am very proud of the journey that we have been on in the two years since.

Zempilas said he was proud that the council and its staff had made some significant advancements for the LGBTIQA+ community over the last two years citing the formation of its LGBTIQ+ advising group that met regularly since February 2021 and provided feedback to the council.

“It is helping us and providing feedback on a journey that ensures that we are indeed a city for everyone.” the Lord Mayor said.

“The Pride flag, after years of not flying at the front of Council House, now proudly flies at the front of Council House, and that is something that has happened in the last two years, and I’m very pleased and proud of that great step forward. It’s significant, it’s genuine, and I thank my fellow councilors and administration for being behind the move.”

Zempilas also highlighted that the council had signed off on a significant increase to the funding provided to Pride WA for the annual festival that was getting underway.

“The funding provided to Pride and PrideFEST has tripled in the last three years. When we became councilors, it was an amount around $65,000 and I’m very pleased and proud to say approved by myself and my fellow councilors and elected members that over $200,000, the largest single contribution from the City of Perth, goes to PrideFEST for the wonderful atmosphere, activation and message it brings into Northbridge and throughout the City of Perth.”

The Lord Mayor also highlighted that Pride WA would be taking up residence in the council owned building overlooking the Northbridge Piazza, and the space would now been known by the community as the Pride Piazza.

Concluding his remarks, the Lord Mayor wished everyone a Happy Pride.

Graeme Watson 

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