Following Hertsmere Labour’s plans to raise a flag at the Civic Centre to commemorate Hertfordshire Pride this weekend, Council officers were forced by the ruling Tories to tell Labour they couldn’t do it. This followed the Tories filibustering a motion last month brought by openly queer councillor couple, Christian Gray and Chris Myers that would have given LGBTQ+ people better rights in the Borough.
The flag pole remained firmly locked, meaning councillors and supporters then had to hold the flag rather than raise it, whilst Council officers observed from a window.
In an impassioned speech from Labour group leader, Cllr Jeremy Newmark, he said “I’m angry because Pride isn’t about partisan politics. Pride is about Equality. Equality and respect. Values that create and sustain decent societies. But thinking on, politics does sit at the heart of that struggle. Because Pride symbolises a struggle that is deeply rooted in a particular kind of politics. Our politics. The politics of justice. The politics of equality.”
“Let’s remember the symbol that was the precursor to the rainbow flag. The pink triangle that the Nazis forced LGBTQ+ people to wear in the buildup to the systematic, orchestrated persecution and murder of 100,000 of them – alongside some six million members of my own community.”
”Let’s remember the Stonewall Inn riots of 50 years ago.”
”Let’s remember the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia as recently as 35 years ago.”
”Let’s remember the annual ‘reminder pickets’ of the 50s and 60s that were in many ways the inspiration for Pride as we know it today.”
”And let’s remember that the struggle continues in places like Iran, Uganda and much of the Middle East today, where celebrating Pride and living openly as LGBTQ+ people is impossible.”
”But, equally significant is the progress that we have made. Here in the UK. Over the past 30 years. Progress that has only been delivered because Labour has taken taken on the politics of hate and won those important victories. It is no coincidence that every victory for every piece of equality legislation has been delivered by Labour.”
”Victories like the Gender Recognition Act; adoption for same sex couples; equality in the workplace; Abolition of Section 28; creation of civil partnerships and of course it was Labour votes that ensured equal marriage became legal.”
”Labour changed the social and political landscape on these issues.”
”There is still a long way to go. We must deliver more for the LGBTQ+ community in education, equal access to public services, elimination of hate crime, mental and physical wellbeing and legal equality for trans people. National, the next Labour Government will act on all of this.”
”Locally, here in Hertsmere we will do our bit.
We will work to implement the local policy imperatives that my colleagues have started.”
“We will ensure that this flag ceremony is an official, formal Civic Mayoral event next year. We won’t be banished to the car park outside again.”
Instead of hosting a reception inside the Civic Centre, the assembled crowd were forced to celebrate on the grass outside. Continued Cllr Christian Gray, who is also Hertsmere Labour’s LGBTQ+ officer, “I was incredibly disappointed that the Tories would not join in the celebration as I was hoping that we could edge towards equality and inclusiveness in the Borough and I think the Mayor was probably worried that we might get glitter all over his carpet.”
A spokesperson for Hertsmere Labour said: “Facilities were withdrawn for the reception because the Council subsequently said that its public liability insurance did not cover political events. Our own insurance adequately covers all our events and personnel, irrespective of location. Appearance of a flag at the Civic Centre a few days ago was clearly designed to stymie our plans.”
Hertsmere Labour will be at Hertfordshire Pride tomorrow telling residents how they plan to make the Borough more LGBTQ+ friendly.