Sydney councillor vows to form LGBTIQA+ network after heated debate at NSW Local Government conference
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Sydney councillors have accused their counterparts from other parts of New South Wales of making homophobic and transphobic comments during debates about forming a network to support LGBTQIA+ representatives and drag story time events. 
Sydney councillor Adam Worling intends to push ahead with plans to set up a network to support queer councillors, despite the proposal being voted down at last week's NSW Local Government conference.
He said the tone of the debate demonstrated the need for such a network.
"I was just a little surprised that people were really confident to put a voice and a face to the sort of comments they were," Cr Worling said.
A spokesperson from the NSW Local Government Association said the organisation did not keep a record of who spoke for or against motions at the annual conference, but the ABC understands there were three speakers against the motion.
The ABC has been told by several sources that one councillor suggested if such a proposal was successful, there should also be a support network for real estate agents who are councillors.
The final speaker against was long-time Murray River councillor Tom Weyrich, who began by saying people were put on earth to procreate.
Cr Worling said Cr Weyrich finished his speech "by saying, 'What people do in their bedroom should stay private. And that's where it should stay'."
Speaking to the ABC later that week, Cr Weyrich said he opposed both the LGBTQIA+ network and the drag story time motions as they were not council priorities.
"I made some comments about we're pre-programmed to reproduce — I'm not a religious man, but that's what I believe," he said.
"I said, 'I'm Councillor Weyrich from outer space, because I must be if we're dealing with this sort of stuff here'."
Cr Weyrich reiterated his opposition.
"Now, I don't have a problem with LGB … GTs, or whatever they are, I'm taking no issue with it," he said.
"But the simple facts are, there were far more important motions that did not get dealt with.
"What people do behind closed doors in their own homes is their business.
"I don't have an issue with that. What I'm saying is there are far more important issues to deal with than this sort of stuff."
Asked by the ABC if he considered any of his comments at the conference to be homophobic, he said, "Is it against the law to be homophobic? Let me tell you, I'm heterosexual, I'm a normal person".
Cr Worling said the community deserved better.
"It's just not right … I just think fundamentally, we should respect people," he said.
Inner West councillor Liz Atkins, who was in favour of both motions, said the debate about the network was "dismissive" and "homophobic".
"They made it very clear they didn't think much of it," they said.
Cr Atkins said discussion about the City of Sydney motion to support inclusive events such as drag story time at libraries was "transphobic", with some councillors linking trans people and drag performers to sex offenders.
The motion was ultimately successful.
Cr Atkins, who is non-binary, said while they had seen similar comments on social media, they did not expect to hear them at an official forum.
"I was shocked that elected representatives would not just express that sort of view, but that they would get up on the mic and say it as representatives of their community," they said.
Cr Atkins said they may take further action.
"The comments were inappropriate and I'm considering approaching the relevant council," they said.
Cr Worling grew up in Lismore in the 1970s and 80s and struggled to find "a glimmer of representation".
"So did I ever think running for local politics was even a possibility? Of course not, because you know, your lifestyle is something you've got to keep quiet. So definitely don't put yourself out there in front of people," he said.
Now, as the only queer councillor on the most prominent council in NSW, Cr Worling said he felt a responsibility to be vocal and set up the network anyway.
He said he was encouraged by the response of many people after the conference debate, who checked he was OK.
"I was taken aback that people were just really concerned that this happened," he said.
"But I think when you've lived with experiencing this for so so long, it didn't hurt me."
He was also approached by a councillor, who did not want to be named, who had faced homophobic remarks since joining a regional council.
Another councillor in regional NSW also contacted him.
"He said, 'I think I'm the only gay regional councillor' … yet he didn't know about the other one."
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