TransFolk of WA & Pride WA send joint letter to Basil Zempilas

TransFolk of WA and Pride WA have co-signed a joint letter to Perth Lord Mayor Basil Zempilas, expressing their thoughts on comments made about trans, gender diverse and intersex people earlier this week.

The letter, signed by TransFolk of WA Chair Hunter Gurevich and Pride WA President Curtis Ward outlines concerns over the Lord Mayor’s comments, with reference to the City of Perth’s Code of Conduct, and invite Zempilas to engage with community organisations and service providers to learn more about being an ally to LGBTQIA+ communities.

The joint document follows numerous statements from local LGBTQIA+ organisations, performers, allies and other local councils, in standing with WA’s LGBTQIA+ communities.

There are also two petitions circulating social media in response to the Lord Mayor’s comments, one calling for PrideFEST to be moved to the City of Vincent, and another calling for Zempilas to stand down.

Read the full text below.

We write in reference to the comments you made on the 6PR breakfast radio show on 28 October 2020. We do not wish to repeat those comments in this letter as they were both demeaning and derogatory towards people of your constituency as well as the broader community, and we do not wish to spread such commentary.

We set out in this letter our concerns with such conduct and encourage you to become better informed about LGBTIQ+ issues; and in particular, the challenges faced by the members of the Trans and Intersex communities. In doing so, we invite you to reach out to both TransFolk of WA and Pride WA, who represent the trans community and broader LGBTIQ+ community within Western Australia, respectively. Both organisations would be happy to discuss these issues with you to assist you to improve your knowledge in these areas.

We firstly refer to the values of the City of Perth, whom you represent, as set out in Part 2 of the City’s Code of Conduct. Pursuant to this document, elected members of the City are to value trust and respect; and in doing so, are to respect others and recognise that we are all different. The comments made by you on 28 October 2020 were in direct contradiction to this value.

The Code of Conduct also sets out the ethical principles of elected members of the city. These principles include:

• the responsibility to avoid discrimination, abuse or exploitation of others;

• the responsibility to respect the rights of individuals and groups allowing them their opinion
and their right to be different; and

• the responsibility to enable and empower others to achieve their potential by promoting
their physical, mental and social wellbeing

• the responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of individuals and society by exercising due
diligence and a duty of care to others

• the responsibility to treat others as they would like to be treated, doing good and not doing
harm; and

• the responsibility to uphold the rights of those who are unable to do so, advocating for
others where required

Again, we do not feel that these ethical responsibilities have been met by your conduct referred to above.

We refer also to the City of Perth’s Strategic Community Plan 2019/2029, in which it states that it is an aspiration of the City of Perth to create ‘a safe, activated and welcoming city that celebrates its diversity and sense of community’. We note that while this plan was adopted by your predecessors it remains the strategic plan of the City of Perth and an aspiration, we have no doubt the residents and business owners within the City’s precinct would like to see you reach.

The City of Perth has for a long time been a strong ally of the LGBTIQ+ community. The city is home to many people of diverse sexuality and gender, as well as being a place of work and recreation for many more. The City of Perth has also been the home of the Perth Pride Parade, a celebration of sexual and gender diversity and acceptance. However, the views expressed by you, as the Lord Mayor of the City of Perth, have caused the community within the City of Perth precinct and the greater community severe doubt as to the future of this relationship. However, we remain hopeful that this can be rectified.

Pride WA will be hosting PrideFEST from 14 November 2020 until 28 November 2020, and we invite you to come along to events during this festival to meet your LGBTIQ+ constituents. In particular, TransFolk of WA will be giving a presentation at the inaugural Rainbow Talks event on 14 November 2020 on the issues faced by the trans and gender diverse communities, finding practical ways to be more inclusive of trans and gender diverse people, and being a better ally in the community. Please confirm whether you would like us to reserve you a seat at this event.

As mentioned above, both TransFolk of WA and Pride WA would be happy to provide counsel and guidance to assist you in better understanding the complexities of the LGBTIQ+ community. We are hopefully that in doing so, we will be able to assist you to be better informed about this section of your constituency, and to assist you to meet the values and ethical responsibilities of your position and the aspirations of the City of Perth. Please let us know whether you would like to engage in such conversations.

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