GAY and lesbian equality supporters can ‘‘get naked and walk backward up Hunter Street if they want to’’, according to Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy.
Just don’t chalk pretty rainbows on council property.
As a Facebook campaign against Cr McCloy gathered strength yesterday, and chalk rainbows rained down on the Hunter, the city’s leading anti-rainbow warrior said protesters ‘‘should send me a big cheque’’.
‘‘I’ve made an insignificant protest into a big one just because I want to keep the city clean,’’ Cr McCloy said.
His request to protesters to ‘‘stop this nonsense’’ as they chalked a rainbow outside City Hall on Wednesday made Newcastle a major focus of the DIY Rainbow Crossings movement’s Facebook page, for the wrong reasons.
The movement started after a rainbow crossing in Sydney’s Oxford Street was removed by the council.
Cr McCloy was unrepentant, and said if a chalked rainbow appeared outside City Hall again, ‘‘we’d clean it off’’’.
‘‘There are a lot of important things to talk about rather than being caught up in this rubbish,’’ he said.
He had ‘‘very good friends who are in gay relationships’’, but people should ‘‘have some civic responsibility’’.
The council argued the rainbow was removed because it did not support ‘‘graffiti of a public place’’.
But a complaint to the council has questioned whether chalk is graffiti under the Graffiti Control Act.
It defines graffiti as a mark ‘‘not readily removable by wiping or by use of water’’.
Lake Macquarie mayor Jodie Harrison said her council would not remove chalk art on council property unless it was offensive, somehow unsafe, or advertised a business.
‘‘As a child I used to play hopscotch on the footpath, marked out in coloured chalk. What’s the difference between a rainbow and a game of hopscotch in coloured chalk?’’ Cr Harrison said.
Cr McCloy said Cr Harrison should ‘‘look after her own backyard’’.
‘‘I can arrange for her council chamber to be chalked with half a ton of chalk if she wants,’’ he said.
He also advised Cessnock Councillor Cordelia Burcham to ‘‘stick to your own business because Cessnock’s in a bloody mess’’.
Cr Burcham had quipped that the chalked rainbows on the street were ‘‘a feel-good story, Jeff’’.