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Intersex councillor likely to be mayor

in AUSTRALIA, 07/11/2011

Victoria could soon have its first intersex Mayor with Hobsons Bay City Councillor Tony Briffa looking likely to win the top job in the city’s west.

Currently Deputy Mayor, Briffa told the Star Observer he believes he has the numbers to win the mayoralty on December 2.

No other councillors have yet firmly indicated they will challenge Briffa’s bid.

“I think I’ve got a good chance of being elected because I have served as Deputy Mayor for two terms now and I have a lot of support within the community,” he said.

“It would hopefully help break down the stigma and taboo associated with having an intersex condition and feeling different and at the same time educate people in the community about the intersex condition.”

Briffa was born with both male and female physical attributes. He was assigned a female gender as a child and his male genitals were removed.

Eventually feeling uncomfortable as a woman, he started hormone replacement therapy and changed his identity documents to male.

Briffa says he is now comfortable identifying as being both male and female.

Since being elected to Hobsons Bay Council, Briffa has been the driving force behind the municipality advancing on LGBTI issues.

The council has hosted events for Melbourne queer cultural festival Midsumma and developed an inter-council liaison group to look at LGBTI issues, including recommending local libraries stock queer literature.

Last week the Hobsons Bay Weekly reported that doubt had been cast over Briffa’s ability to run for the position given he was found to have breached the councillor code of conduct for sending unauthorised emails and press releases criticising a Mobil oil refinery public relations adviser.

It’s understood, however, there is nothing in local government laws preventing Briffa from becoming Mayor.

“The only thing in the Local Government Act that would prohibit someone from becoming Mayor is if they’re found guilty of serious misconduct by VCAT [Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal] and VCAT specifically bans a person becoming a Mayor for a period,” Briffa said.

“Obviously that isn’t the case with me … there’s nothing that’s happened to preclude me from being Mayor.”

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