A lesbian Sydney councillor who opposed plans to set up rainbow crossings in the city’s gay district has replied to her critics and says she actually wanted them to be permanent, and only opposed plans to make them temporary.

The proposal came from Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who wished to mark the 35th anniversary of Mardi Gras. He says that if the crossings prove popular they will remain as a permanent fixture.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said: “Lesbians and gay men were beaten and bashed on Oxford Street in 1978, and homophobic violence was rife for years. To now have our flag on our street celebrates how far we have come and is a tribute to the battles we have won.”

He criticised councillors who had opposed the crossings, including lesbian and pro-equal marriage councillor Christine Forster.

When the plan was announced, Ms Forster said: “A lot of visitors come to Oxford St to get a feel for gay and lesbian Sydney, and having these crossings will help identify that area as the community’s heart.”

Yet she voted against the proposal along with fellow liberal councillor Edward Mandla and councillor Angela Vithoulkas, in a move Mr Greenwich said was “mean-spirited and showed a lack of respect”.

However, Ms Foster responded by saying that she had voted against the crossings because she felt the cost (of around £52,300) could not be justified if the crossings remained only until the end of March.