Mayor dismisses 'premature' call to support same-sex marriage policy
A CALL for Torbay Council to show solidarity for the Government's proposed same-sex marriage policy has been dismissed as 'premature'.
Cllr Matt James has called upon the mayor to write a letter to the Government outlining Torbay Council's support of the proposal which would allow couples of the same sex to get married.
Cllr James said: "The mayor should write to the Prime Minister outlining our support. By supporting this motion, the council will send a clear message to our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual residents, that we believe all people should be treated equally regardless of race, religion or sexuality, that discrimination against anyone for any reason is wrong and will not be tolerated.
"There are approximately 10,000 LGBT residents living in Torbay.
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"At the moment it is illegal for any of them to marry the person they fall in love with. The coalition Government is currently planning to change the law by 2015 to allow them to do so.
"We will be sending a very clear message to all those who are struggling with their sexuality and believe that they are somehow worth less that they are not."
Cllr Mike Morey supported Cllr James's proposal and said nationally the proposal had received cross-party support.
Responding to the proposal, mayor Gordon Oliver said: "This is a very sensitive and very important subject for council members and the people of Torbay.
"I fully agree with the statement that all people should be treated equally, regardless of race, religion or sexuality. I fully support that statement and it is one that is enshrined in the legislation of this council with regard to all our existing staff, and I am proud of that and will support it."
But he said that he was not comfortable making a decision when neither the council nor the residents of Torbay had been consulted on the matter.
He added: "The council is asking one person, me, to make that decision, and I don't think that's fair when elected members haven't had a debate, nor have the people of Torbay.
"I think it is a premature request, but it is something that members of parliament should be approached on, for members of the public to make their views known.
"That is the way forward on this issue."
Cllr James also called for an investigation into the level of homophobic bullying in Torbay's schools after national figures released found that 90 per cent of teachers said homophobic bullying took place at their schools making it the most common form of bullying after weight issues.
Referring to a report compiled by the Stonewall organisation, Cllr James said: "LGBT young people are at a much greater risk of suicide or mental health problems than the rest of the population. I am asking for an investigation to collect local figures, from schools and other organisations."
Supporting the inquiry Cllr Darren Cowell said: "We need to be certain everything is being done to prevent bullying.