Rainbow flag flies from Houses of Parliament for first time ever
The rainbow flag is flying from the UK’s Houses of Parliament for the first time, ahead of Pride in London.
Today the flag was raised above the Houses of Parliament for the first time – with the Speakers of the Commons and Lords both giving special permission to mark the weekend of London’s Pride festival.
LGBT group ParliOUT had gifted a 12 foot rainbow flag for the occasion, with the flag set to fly until June 26.
David Geary, Head of Political Engagement for Pride in London, said: “It was in the Houses of Parliament that homosexuality was decriminalised, equal consent laws were introduced, the bigoted Section 28 was repealed, where civil partnership and ultimately equal marriage were adopted. This powerful institution, right at the heart of British democracy has become a powerful tool for equality in recent times.
“The rainbow flag flying above serves as a testament to this legacy and a reflection of how far we have come as a community – with more LGBT+ politicians than any other country in the world.”
ParliOUT will also march in the Pride in London parade on June 25, with many MPs also set to march with their individual parties.
John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons said: “I am delighted that ParliOUT is taking part in the Pride in London celebrations and so visibly supporting the LGBT+ community.
“They deserve huge credit for their tireless endeavours on behalf of our LGBT+ colleagues here at Westminster and beyond.”
Baroness D’Souza, Speaker of the House of Lords said: “I am proud that Parliament is flying the rainbow flag, celebrating the LGBT+ community who are well represented in both the membership and staff of the House of Lords.
“I am pleased that we can show Parliament is an inclusive employer, fit to support a 21st century Parliament.”
ParliOUT will board a red double-decker bus for the Pride parade on Saturday.
In remembrance of the Orlando shooting victims, the number of the bus will be 49, ‘Remembering Orlando’ will be displayed where the stop names unusually appear, and ‘Love Wins’ will replace the destination sign at the front of the bus.
More than 75 Parliamentary members of staff have signed up to march in the Parade. They will be wearing Parliament branded t-shirts and have white roses in memory of Jo Cox MP.
The side of the bus will carry a ‘Get on Board! #DoDemocracy’ banner.
David Clark, Head of Parliament’s Outreach and Engagement Service said: “We are thrilled to be taking part in this year’s Pride in London celebrations by asking crowds to take selfies with our ‘Get on board! Do Democracy’ placard. Public Engagement is at the heart of Parliament’s work and we continually strive to expand and diversify our public engagement activities.”
Rob Truelove and Jenny Radcliffe, Co-Chairs of ParliOUT said: “On behalf of all ParliOUT members, we would like to thank Mr Speaker and the Lord Speaker for their full support, as well as all ParliOUT members who generously donated money to buy the LGBT+ rainbow flag as a gift to Parliament. While we recognise that there is still more to do, this is a very positive symbol of how far we have come in becoming a more inclusive workplace.”
Commons Speaker John Bercow is a passionate supporter of LGBT rights, and has spoken out for equality on a number of occasions.