PARRAMATTA'S lord mayor is facing a social media backlash after a gay and lesbian youth group invited to a family fun day was asked by the council to remove its ''offensive'' signage.
Council staff told Twenty10 that a banner promoting its ''support services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people, their families and communities'' was inappropriate at last week's Rediscover the River festival, Twenty10's acting managing director, Terence Humphreys, said.
The request prompted Twenty10 to pack up its kite-making stall and leave, posting on Facebook that it could not support an event if a sign describing the group had been ''deemed to contain offensive language''.
''We had school-aged clients there, volunteers and staff who were very distressed by the incident,'' Mr Humphreys said. ''It sends a really horrible message to the people of Parramatta that it wasn't OK to be same-sex attracted, gender diverse at a family event.''
The council has been inundated with complaints as news of the January 17 incident has spread. A change.org petition calling for an apology had attracted more than 6000 signatures in a matter of hours on Monday.
The council said in a statement that organisers asked that two banners be removed ''in response to numerous complaints by members of the public'' but at no stage did it request Twenty10 to leave. It declined to say what aspect of the signs was deemed to be offensive.
''Council regrets any inconvenience or offence taken by its actions and values the efforts and contribution of Twenty10 in servicing at-risk youth,'' it said.
But Twenty10 was awaiting a response from the Liberal lord mayor, John Chedid - whose staff it claims made the request - or it will consider lodging a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board.
''We specifically want an apology and reassurance from the lord mayor's office that their staff will undertake some anti-discrimination training,'' Mr Humphreys said.
Cr Chedid was unavailable for comment on Monday but the issue divided fellow councillors.
Independent councillor and former mayor Lorraine Wearne apologised for any offence caused but labelled some of the response an overreaction.
Labor's Julia Finn said the council's reasoning was inadequate. But independent councillor Paul Garrard said Twenty10 should not have been at the family day as it was no place for ''semi-political'' groups.