Rainbow Local Government is a non-partisan campaign created by the Lobby to actively recruit and support LGBTIQA+ candidates to increase diversity in local government, alongside identifying allies who can champion change on LGBTIQA+ issues in local government.
Launched in August 2020, the campaign encouraged LGBTIQA+ Victorians to stand for council at the elections in October, and also identified candidates that are proud to publicly stand for the rights, safety and inclusion of LGBTIQA+ Victorians in their local community. The predominantly online campaign reached councillors, candidates and voters rights across Victoria – from the inner city to the suburbs to the regions. It was recognised with 2020 GLOBE’s Outstanding Advocacy of the Year Award, was a finalist in the 2021 Melbourne Awards, and received the 2021 GLOBE Community Grant.
Our first goal was to double the number of LGBTIQA+ candidates standing for and elected to local government. Despite advances over the years, going into these council elections, only about 1.5% of Victoria’s councillors openly identified as LGBTIQA+. In the 2016 local council elections, the campaign supported over 40 LGBTIQA+ candidates, with over 10 elected, doubling the number of LGBTIQA+ councillors in Victoria. When elected, LGBTIQA+ councillors have a proven track record of working across the political divide to achieve tangible outcomes in their councils, and act as an important source of education and awareness on LGBTIQA+ issues for other councillors and the community alike.
Our second goal was to identify councillors and candidates who will stand for the rights, safety and inclusion of LGBTIQA+ Victorians in their local community, whom we could actively alongside to help their local LGBTIQA+ community if elected.
Rainbow Local Government created a list of five asks for candidates:
- undertaking Rainbow Tick accreditation for council run services;
- establishing or continuing an LGBTIQA+ advisory committee to council;
- developing and implementing an LGBTIQA+ action plan for council;
- flying the rainbow flag from council buildings on LGBTIQA+ awareness days; and
- marching at Pride March under a council banner or participating in Midsumma or local pride events.
The rainbow pledge was the first of its kind, being the inaugural survey of local council candidates on LGBTIQA+ priority issues. We contacted each of the 2186 candidates in the local elections and asked them to publicly pledge their support for support LGBTIQA+ priorities in local government, with 45% pledging.
Rainbow Local Government launched the rainbowvotes.com.au website to allow voters to search by postcode to see which candidates have taken the pledge and publicly and fully committed to supporting LGBTIQA+ priorities in local government. Furthermore, the Lobby now knows which elected candidates we can work with to achieve changes to make our local communities safer, more inclusive and better for everyone.
At rainbowvotes.com.au we also included the relevant pride flags that mark the different sexual orientations, gender identities or intersex status of the LGBTIQA+ candidates to show that we value this diversity and to promote acceptance.
As well as providing a platform to spotlight LGBTIQA+ candidates and allies, Rainbow Local Government also provided: an online network for LGBTIQA+ councillors and candidates; mentoring of first-time LGBTIQA+ candidates; and training, advice and support for all LGBTIQA+ candidates.
We actively promoted standing for council across our social media and through the Star Observer. Though we were not able to visit regional areas due to travel restrictions, we reached out to local pride groups to support the campaign and encourage regional LGBTIQA+ people to stand for council.
We connected candidates with media opportunities to boost their profile in the community, and pushed out stories on LGBTIQA+ candidate through the media.
As a result of the Rainbow Local Government campaign, we had 131 LGBTIQA+ candidates standing for local government (triple the amount that stood in the last local government elections). We are particularly delighted that the number of trans candidates more than quadrupled compared to last elections 29 openly LGBTIQA+ candidates were elected (double the number of LGBTIQA+ candidates elected last time), meaning Victoria will have councils that are more reflective of the communities they represent.
- 4.7% of Victorian councillors are LGBTIQA+. This moves us closer to having the percentage of LGBTIQA+ councillors reflecting the percentage of LGBTIQA+ people in the broader community.
- 973 allies committed to supporting LGBTIQA+ priorities if they were elected through our pledge survey, and
- 269 allies were elected. There is at least one LGBTIQA+ ally at every council but 7. This means we have allies on almost every council that we can work with on championing LGBTIQA+ priorities in their local area.
- Roads, rates, rubbish and rainbows: A report on the 2020 Rainbow Local Government campaign (report in Rainbow Local Government folder)
- LGBTIQA+ Inclusive Language Guide (report in Rainbow Local Government folder)
- Rainbow Local Government: Implementing LGBTIQA+ priorities in Victorian local councils (report in Rainbow Local Government folder)