Cambridgeshire County Council is in danger of sending a contradictory message to the public by not flying the rainbow flag warns Liberal Democrat Ed Cearns.
He says the council has a good record of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people but its failure to fly the flag during LGBT history month in February could be misinterpreted.
Cllr Cearns, who represents Cambridge’s Market Ward on the county council said that not flying the flag sends a negative message to young people who are LGBT with the implication that the council does not support them.
He is raising a motion at full council on at the end of March 2014 calling on the council to fly the rainbow flag from Shire Hall during LGBT history month starting in February 2015
Cllr Cearns said:
“The council failed to fly the flag in LGBT history month in February and took no part in the programme of events; I believe this was wrong.
“A significant number of local authorities, including our own district councils of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire flew the flag this year, but the county council was noticeably absent from that list.
“I am concerned that by not flying the flag in support of LGBT people, the council sends a contradictory message when it has a good record of support including receiving national recognition from LGBT rights organisation, Stonewall.”
Cllr Cearns said there is still a great deal of work to achieve equality for LGBT people.
“There is a serious need for all public bodies to show their solidarity for the acceptance of LGBT people,” he said.
“I hope that councillors will support this motion so that we can fly the rainbow flag and show LGBT people and the wider public that we are fully supportive.”
The full wording of the motion is as follows:
This Council notes
The County Council did not fly the rainbow flag during the recent Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history month and took no part in the programme of events.
A significant number of local authorities, including our own district councils of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire, flew the flag this year.
Currently, the Council flies flags for the following days or events: Commonwealth Day, St George’s Day, Europe Day & Armed Forces Day. The Union flag is flown on all other days, apart from Council meeting days when the Council Coat of Arms is flown.
Social attitudes towards homosexuality have changed significantly with only a minority of the UK population now thinking homosexuality is wrong – 50% thought it was wrong in 1983 compared to 22% in 2012.
By not flying the flag in support of LGBT people, Council risks sending a contradictory message to the public, because in many other areas it does support them, for example:
- Council has a good record of support for LGBT people, including receiving national recognition from LGBT rights organisation Stonewall.
- The Council itself released a press release in February promoting adoption and fostering by same sex couples as a positive option for looked after children.
- However, this Council believes there is still much work to do to achieve equality for LGBT people:
- LGBT adults and children face a significantly higher risk of self-harm, bullying, hate crime as well as general health inequalities, much of which is made worse if they feel that official bodies do not accept & support them.
- Internationally LGBT people are under threat, as highlighted by recent controversies around homophobic laws in Russia around the time of Sochi Olympics & Paralympics, as well as Uganda’s homophobic laws, to name but two examples.
Therefore, this Council believes:
- There is a serious need for all UK public bodies to clearly show their solidarity for the acceptance of LGBT people.
- Flying the rainbow flag during LGBT history month is a cost effective way of doing this.
- By not flying the flag a very negative message is sent to young people who are LGBT, with the implication that the County Council does not support them.
- LGBT rights are human rights and the rainbow flag represents a wider public message about tolerance and respect of others that goes beyond any one minority group. Whilst some members are rightly concerned about a proliferation of flags, flying the rainbow flag does not set a precedent, and any new requests should be taken on their individual merit.
Therefore this Council resolves to:
- Fly the rainbow flag in LGBT History month starting in 2015
The Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) equality for decades. We have the best record in Parliament of any political party on LGBT+ equality issues, and we continue to develop and promote progressive policies for LGBT+ people.
The Liberal Democrat Federal Constitution makes our position clear:
“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”
Visit the Liberal Democrat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender website by CLICKING HERE!