Words: Steve Brown
Rainbows colours will be displayed on a town hall in Northern Ireland to mark LGBT Awareness Week following a narrowest of votes.
The Ards and North Down Council voted on a request from a LGBT+ advocacy group, The Rainbow Project, to light up the Ards Town Hall with rainbow colours to mark the awareness week next year and the idea was passed by 19 votes to 18.
The BBC report that the vote only went ahead after the DUP failed to pass an amendment to use pink lighting as a compromise.
In September, the council voted down a proposal to light up the government building to coincide with Pride Day, but the motion was defeated 20 to 16.
However, this time the result was overturned and Alliance councillor Andrew Muir said: “I am glad that Ards and North Down Borough Council has agreed with the Rainbow Project request to light up Ards Town Hall in rainbow colours for LGBT+ Awareness Week on May 13 next year.
“I would like to thank all those who voted in favour of this positive move including my Alliance Party colleagues alongside Ulster Unionists, Greens, Independents and the two DUP councillors who broke ranks.
“I am, however, very disappointed that the proposal was only passed by one vote after a failed DUP amendment to instead use the colour pink as a ‘compromise’.
“I personally found this to be an offensive suggestion and believe it shows a real lack of understanding of the LGBT+ community.
“Indeed, one argument citied for the DUP amendment was that the colour pink was used during the Holocaust.
“This I would agree demonstrates that perhaps some in the DUP have a long journey to travel in relation to LGBT+ awareness.
"I would therefore hope all members of the council engage in events around LGBT Awareness Week as we seek to build a better understanding of the issues faced by all citizens in our borough irrespective of sexual orientation or gender."
The DUP has a history of anti-gay and anti-abortion laws and although homosexuality is legal in Northern Ireland, same-sex marriage is yet to be legalised despite pressure from LGBT+ activists.