Gay Labour MP urges end to ban after rainbow flag confiscated by Parliament security
A gay Labour MP has called for an end to the ban on rainbow flags in Parliament after one was confiscated from a constituent today ahead of a Commons debate on gay marriage.
Wes Streeting said he was sure security officials were following the rules when they took the established symbol of the LGBT movement from Richard Angel, a Labour activist, as he arrived at the Palace of Westminster.
However, he raised a point of order in the Commons to find out how the ban could be overturned.
Flags of all colours are prohibited by parliamentary authorities and visitors are expected to surrender them at the entrance, according to security information on the parliament.uk website.
LGBT activists were in parliament today for the first reading of a bill that would bring equal marriage to Northern Ireland – currently the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is banned.
Mr Streeting, the MP for Ilford North, said: “Earlier today, my constituent Richard Angel arrived in parliament wearing a rainbow flag to support the campaign but was asked by the house security to remove the flag and it was confiscated until he left.”
Addressing the deputy speaker of the House, Dame Rosie Winterton, he added: “I’m sure the individuals, the officers of the House, were just following the rules, but I wonder if you could clarify whether that was the appropriate course of action.
“And, if they were following the rules, could you give us some advice as to how we might get these rules revised so that this powerful symbol for equality can be carried through our Parliament.”
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The deputy speaker replied: “I will certainly look into the matter that he’s raised and get back to him.”
The equal marriage bill, introduced under the Ten Minute Rule by Labour MP Conor McGinn, passed its first reading unopposed.
However, it remains uncertain whether it will become law as it currently lacks the support of the government. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she would prefer the issue was dealt with by the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Other prohibited items on the Parliamentary estate include banners, placards and “items that make a noise” such as whistles.