ACCUSATIONS of homophobia have been flying after organisers of Warwickshire Pride were refused permission to fly a rainbow flag over Leamington Town Hall.
The annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) festival Warwickshire Pride is set to be held in Leamington’s Pump Room Gardens on August 20.
Organisers of the free festival – which attracts thousands to the town – contacted Warwick District Council leader Coun Andrew Mobbs asking him to allow a the flag which represents the LGBT community to be flown at the Town Hall during the event.
But the request was refused with the council saying flags were only flown for national events and not local ones. Pride organisers also claimed a council ‘flag policy’ was mentioned which was later revealed not to exist.
Following the email, organisers of Warwickshire Pride released a statement saying many Leamington councillors supported the rainbow flag being flown and even suggested the council leader had ‘prejudiced views’ which clouded his judgement.
They also launched a petition against his decision, receiving nearly 200 signatures in a matter of days.
But this week Warwick District Council did a u-turn and announced it would allow the flag to fly over the town hall.
Coun Mobbs said: “I would like to firmly refute any suggestion that the council has discriminated against any section of the local community.
“Historically the council has only flown the union flag at the town hall, other than for national events, which is why the initial request from Warwickshire Pride resulted only in the commitment to fly the flag in Jephson Gardens.
“We’ve since reconsidered the decision and I am personally delighted that the rainbow flag will now also be flying from the town hall.
“However, this request has highlighted a clear need for a formal policy on flag flying and I have asked officers to prepare one as quickly as possible for members to consider.”
But festival founder Daniel Browne has called on Coun Mobbs for a formal council apology for the ‘deep offence’ caused to the LGBT community.
Mr Browne said: “It is fantastic that the rainbow flag will be flown at Leamington Town Hall and Jephson Gardens.
“It is a great shame that something so simple became this big issue, but we now take comfort in the fact that the flag will fly.”