BUDE-STRATTON Town Council has been criticised after it removed a pride flag from a pole during Armed Forces Weekend.
Bude Pride Education said that it found the removal of the flag on Shalder Hill unacceptable.
It accused the council of deciding that the flag should not be flown during the Armed Forces weekend due to its proximity to a war memorial.
The group also said that the removal of the flag was despite Royal British Legion head office having no objections to pride flags being flown in similar locations, and claimed that the removal of this specific flag was due to complaints from a “few individuals who have presented with homophobic language and behaviour.”
A spokesperson for Bude Pride Education said in a statement: “Whilst we too wish everyone celebrating Armed Forces Day a joyous celebration, we do not believe that the Bude-Stratton Town Council‘s decision to remove the Pride flag from Shalder Hill for this weekend during Pride Month to be acceptable.
“Government guidelines encourage multiple flag flying (on the same poles as well as on different ones) to showcase a community’s diversity. The council has received correspondence from organisations, such as the Royal British Legion’s head office, in response to the campaign from a few individuals against flying Pride flags, stating that they see no reason for Pride flags not to be flown on Shalder Hill.
“Apparently, the council has decided that Pride flags should not be flown on Shalder Hill this weekend because it is near a war memorial. We don’t see how this geographical observation is relevant.
“If the government and all the sectors of the Armed Forces across the UK can commemorate two celebrations at once, why can’t Bude?
“Whilst we are grateful for Pride flags to still be flying on three other council poles this weekend, we believe taking down the one on Shalder Hill, at the request of a few individuals who have presented with homophobic language and behaviour on multiple occasions, to be offensive.
“Should any groups have wished to hold a replication of a traditional military-based ceremony on this council-owned hill, much like last year, a simple arrangement could have been made. The Pride Flag could have been lowered in order for the group to raise and pay their respects to the Union Jack, followed by the Pride flag re-joining the Union Jack upon the ceremony’s completion. This would have caused no harm whatsoever.
“We believe the council’s decision to be a blatant compromise with prejudice and showcases how much further we have to go to ensure the safety and well-being of our LGBT+ community with us today, and to come.
“Many will continue to brand us and our volunteers as antagonistic, arrogant, and outspoken. They are entitled to their opinion.
“We believe, much like Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and the many brave people who have fought for LGBT+ rights and liberation before us, that we are strong. We have a duty to those suffering today, and those suffering tomorrow, to stand up for what’s right, and we will not stop.”
Bude-Stratton Town Council have been approached for comment but had not responded at the time of going to print.