Belfast Telegraph

Councillors vote down plan to fly Rainbow flag in support of Larne Pride Festival

Pride: The rainbow flag
Pride: The rainbow flag

Organisers of a gay pride festival in Larne have expressed their disappointment after Mid and East Antrim Borough Council voted against flying the rainbow flag from the council building for next year's event.

On Monday night the council voted 28 to 10 against the flying the flag. All 28 votes against the motion to fly the flag, which was proposed by Alliance councillor Danny Donnelly, were from DUP, UUP and TUV councillors.

Organisers claimed that Ulster Unionist councillor Maureen Morrow, who is Mayor of the borough, also refused an invite to a pride event next year.

Larne Pride Festival, posting on Facebook, said: "Larne Pride from the beginning came about to help support the LGBTQ community in Larne, and show our youth and next generation there’s a place for everyone in this town.

"It’s our hope it will help mental health massively especially amongst LGBTQ people, so no more lives would be ruined nor lost.

"As disappointing as it may be, it’s only one flag on one building, when we had hundreds of rainbow flags in supporting us this year the full length of the Main Street. Next year we know there will be hundreds more.

"To everyone who voted no, thank you for keeping our cause alive, making it stronger and fuelling our drive and motivation. Without you we wouldn’t need pride. We can now promise you all 2020 will be huge."

TUV councillor Matthew Armstrong, speaking during the council meeting, said: "The LGBT movement’s chief aim is to enact a change in the law, to legalise same sex marriage. That issue divides opinion in our Province and our Borough.

"Why should our Borough’s buildings be marked by a flag which is as divisive as any other that Alliance would care to mention and which represents an opinion which is incompatible with the views of many of our areas citizens?

"I am ever mindful that each of us owe it to the people who sent us to this place to represent their views. My chief aim, as I promised at the election, is to fight their corner at every juncture."

Sinn Fein councillor Ian Friary hit out at unionist parties for blocking the plan.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Rainbow Flag will not fly from the council building next year after it was opposed by the DUP, UUP and TUV," he said.

“It was an opportunity to show solidarity to the LGBTQ community and mark the contribution they make to the community in Larne.

“Equality threatens no one but we still have a long way to travel on that march.

“The LGBTQ community still do not enjoy full recognition and implementation of their rights, including the right of marriage equality which is available everywhere else on these islands.

"Sinn Féin has and will continue to work in solidarity with the LGBTQ community to create positive change in our society that will activate public and political support for full equal rights.”

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