Australian city plans permanent rainbow crossing to combat hate speech

A councillor of coastal city of Wollongong in Australia is planning a permanent rainbow pedestrian crossing to combat hate speech.

Councillor Tania Brown is asking the city council to support her plan to show the queer community in Wollongong that they are welcome.

Brown told daily local newspaper Illawarra Mercury: “It might just be a symbol but symbols and signs matter. It will send a message to our community.

“Over the last month we have seen homophobic hate speech. Former rugby player Israel Folau’s comments have sparked a religious freedom debate.

“It is easily for people to express their opinion online and unfortunately that is usually negative so I hope the crossing counteracts that discussion with positivity.”

Folau was fired in April after sharing a meme that “hell awaits” gay people.

Brown wants to repaint an existing crossing in rainbow colours

The Australian Labor councillor told the newspaper that she believes the crossing will be more than just a token gesture.

She said: “I hope the crossing will send a message that Wollongong is a diverse community which is proud of its social inclusion.

“It is important that queer people do not feel ostracised and the crossing, if approved, will be a physical place that people can see and feel welcome there.”

If the motion is approved in a council meeting on Monday (July 22) an existing zebra crossing in the city centre will be repainted in rainbow colours.

According to Illawarra Greens, Brown’s son is openly gay and she has worked to make the city more LGBT+ friendly,

Brown also said that the crossing may improve tourism in the city, and hopes it might draw visitors in the same was as London’s Abbey road.

“People could take photos there like they do at the Abbey Road crossing in England,” she said.

Rainbow street crossing are becoming a trend globally to promote LGBT+ pride and inclusion.