Sindt agrees to be more ‘inclusive’

Latrobe City Councillor Christine Sindt says discussions with members of the community have made her aware her Facebook posts opposing same sex marriage “may have triggered intense emotion” for people.

“In relation to same sex marriage, I have met with members of the community, and have become aware that my Facebook posts opposing same sex marriage may have triggered intense emotion, based on their own personal experiences,” Cr Sindt told The Express in a statement on Friday.

“Discussions are continuing, for which there are clearly no immediate short-term solutions.

“We have agreed that same sex marriage is not the solution to far deeper social problems.”

Cr Sindt said she had “agreed to disagree” with people on the issue of same sex marriage, and “agreed that we need to be an inclusive, supportive Latrobe City community”.

Her controversial Facebook comments drew interstate ire last week, with an outspoken, Sydney-based gay rights activist lodging a formal complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales.

Garry Burns has alleged an 11 June statement on Cr Sindt’s offcial councillor Facebook page incited hatred against homosexual men.

The contents of the Facebook post cannot be reported for legal reasons.

Mr Burns said he believed Cr Sindt’s statement was unlawful because it “has a capacity or effect of inciting hatred towards, or serious contempt or serious ridicule of homosexual men on the grounds of their homosexuality”.

“People in high office have responsibility, they’re people in powerful positions and they should understand the impact of their statement particularly on gay and lesbian teenagers, because these kinds of statements do cause harm,” he said.

Cr Sindt’s Facebook post included a personal attack on Member for Gippsland Darren Chester after he declared he would support legislation to legalise same-sex marriage.

A lawyer for Mr Chester sent a letter to Cr Sindt requesting she retract the statement and unreservedly apologise.

From Thursday morning, Cr Sindt’s councillor Facebook page appeared to have been taken down.

Cr Sindt said she had not yet received any legal correspondence about her councillor Facebook page and she had voluntarily deactivated it.

“I do not know Garry Burns, and look forward to receiving his correspondence,” Cr Sindt said.