Council flies rainbow flag after telling protesters it would ‘breach their flag policy’
A demonstration is being planned outside of a local council’s offices – because it had initially refused to fly a pride flag as part of LGBT history month.
Campaigners in Havering, East London, were told earlier this month by Havering Council that the flag could not be flown as it would “set a precedent”.
In correspondence seen by local newspaper, the Yellow Advertiser, council officials said that its ‘flag policy’ would prohibit the rainbow flag from being raised over the town hall.
The policy states that the Union Flag, the St. George’s Cross and the Borough Flag must be continually raised over the town hall’s central green.
Flagpoles on the town hall are reserved for ‘special occasions’, such as Remembrance Day and 9/11. However, LGBT History Month is not included on the council’s list of special occasions.
The council did not have the “resources” required to show the rainbow flag for a month, it said.
Angry campaigners confronted officials about the policy, pointing out that other flags, which were not for designated ‘special occasions’, had been seen over the council’s offices.
Members of several local Labour constituency parties had planned a public protest over the issue on February 21, before the council performed a u-turn.
In a victory for campaigners, the Mayor of Havering, Cllr Linda Van den Hende, and deputy leader Cllr Damian White, raised the flag at a ceremony at the town hall in Romford on February 7th.
Mayor Linda Van den Hende said she was “proud” to raise the flag, calling it a “symbol of the council’s support for LGBT people”.
Resident Fay Hough said she was “over the moon” at the reversal, while Nicholas West said the initial decision had only fuelled interest in a demonstration.
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However, despite the policy u-turn, campaigners are still planning to hold a demonstration, to celebrate their efforts.
West, of South Hornchurch Labour party, said: “We will now be celebrating our victory in getting the flag flown, and that we showed the council that Havering will not be silent if they refuse to show any of our communities how much they are welcome and loved there”.
The demonstration is due to take place on February 21 from 6 PM at the town hall.
LGBT History Month runs every February in the UK, with this year’s theme being ‘Geography: Mapping the World’.