Deputy mayor in gay flag spat

Ashfield resident Daniel Comensoli was told to take down his rainbow flag from outside his unit.
Ashfield resident Daniel Comensoli was told to take down his rainbow flag from outside his unit.

THE deputy mayor of Inner West Council has rejected claims of "homophobia" following a neighbourly spat involving a rainbow flag hanging in an Ashfield strata complex.

The dispute began earlier this month when Liberal councillor Julie Passas asked her neighbour, Daniel Comensoli, to remove the flag draped from his first-floor balcony.

Mr Comensoli said he was then subjected to alleged "homophobic" abuse by Cr Passas after refusing to take down the flag, which he displayed shortly after the result of the same-sex marriage postal survey.

"She demanded that I remove the flag because it was offensive to her culture and religion," Mr Comensoli wrote on Facebook on Saturday.


Liberal councillor Julie Passas.
Liberal councillor Julie Passas.

"Passas shouted for the whole apartment complex to hear that only 'until [I] could breastfeed and have children should I be afforded the right to marry'."

"I was angry and frustrated that I had to experience such hurtful, vile abuse from a prominent member of the council on a day that should've been celebrating our win," she said.

Cr Passas said the flag replaced a smaller flag inside his home, which she "did not have an issue with" and accused Mr Comensoli of calling her an "old idiot".

The 69-year-old councillor, who is the secretary of the body corporate and has lived in the complex since 2013, said the allegations of harassment were "completely false".

"The flag was as big as a bed sheet and was in breach of the complex's strata laws which stops residents hanging material - political or otherwise - in common areas," she said.

"I told him you've got people in the complex from different culture and religions - and you have to live by the same rules that stopped me from hanging a 'no' banner."

Ashfield police and the property's agent have also been drawn into the dispute, prompting Mr Comensoli to move the flag inside his home last week.

Mr Comensoli said he wanted to publicise the issue because Cr Passas was "the deputy mayor of one of the city's most progressive councils".

But Cr Passas said she was being "trialled on social media" with more than 1800 comments and "likes" responding to the post since it was posted on Saturday morning. Some called for her to be sacked from public office.

"This is why you don't get politicians taking a stand on anything these days because it's trial by social media," she said.

The spat comes after the Inner West Council region recorded among Australia's highest Yes vote in the postal survey, with 80 per cent supporting same-sex marriage in the Federal Grayndler electorate.

Since September's election, the council also passed resolutions to display banners in high profile locations in support of the Yes vote, along with waiving same-sex marriage fees in council halls for 100 days - motions passed with opposition from Cr Passas.

Topics:  gay rainbow flag

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