Oxford

Abingdon council rejects rainbow Pride flag

Rainbow flag Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The six-bar rainbow flag is a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community

Campaigners said they were "shocked and appalled" at a council's refusal to fly a rainbow flag for a Pride event.

Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council voted against the motion to fly the flag from the town's county hall next June in support of Oxford Pride.

Oxford Pride chairman Robert Jordan accused the council of "backward" thinking and said it showed inequality.

The council said flying the rainbow flag would set a "clear precedent" for other flags to be flown in the town.

'All inhabitants welcome'

Mr Jordan, who lives in Abingdon, said: "I genuinely believed we lived in progressive times.

"I'm shocked and appalled of the town I live in, where for one day of the year one flag can't be flown to show acceptance, tolerance and that all inhabitants are welcome."

Image copyright Colin Smith
Image caption It was hoped the flag could be flown at Abingdon County Hall during Oxford Pride 2017

A petition against the council's decision has been signed by more than 1,000 people.

Signatory John Barry, from Birmingham, said: "The town should be more concerned about the message that not flying the flag would send out."

Mark Holton, from Swindon, said: "By not flying the flag it suggests it's ok in Oxfordshire to be homophobic.

"Sexuality is irrelevant to the council, the message they are sending is not!"

Conservative council leader Mike Badcock said: "The council has a long-standing policy on which flags it flies from the county hall."

These include the Union flag, flag of St George, the town flag, the Commonwealth and Armed Forces Day flags, as well as the "appropriate royal standard" during a royal visit, he said.

He added Oxford Pride was not an Abingdon event and, should there be an Abingdon Pride event, "this would be welcomed, and we would be pleased to consider allowing a rainbow flag to be flown from a flagpole on the Market Place".

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