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London Borough Reverses Gay Flag Ban


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London Borough Reverses Gay Flag Ban

by Peter Moore 365Gay.com, London Bureau

Posted: November 8, 2005 9:00 pm ET

(London) One of London's gayest neighborhoods will be allowed once more to fly the Rainbow flag. After a nearly yearlong battle the city Westminster has reversed itself and now says the flags will be permitted in front of businesses.

Soho has what is accepted as the largest LGBT community in the UK but last January Westminster told bars and clubs in Soho to take down the gay flags from in front of their establishments. (story)

The borough claimed said the flags were ordered down because the clubs had failed to get a permit to have something hanging over the street.

The businesses attempted to get permits but the city planning department turned down all requests.

Some clubs flew their flags despite the ban and were told they risked prosecution.

One of the businesses ordered to remove the flag was the Admiral Duncan pub. In 1999 the gay bar was the scene of a nail bombing.

Three people were killed and 73 injured in the attack. A skinhead and self proclaimed fascist was later arrested and convicted in the attack.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone called Westminster's Rainbow ban “completely out of touch with the needs of 21st century London.”

LGBT rights group Stonewall accused the council of being petty.

Westminster's cabinet member for planning, Robert Davis, said: "The flying of rainbow flags is an important tradition in this part of Soho."

After months of verbal sparring council relented. The new policy will allow most shops in Soho to fly a flag without applying for planning permission.

“London is making great progress as one of the most lesbian and gay friendly cities in the world," said Livingstone in a statement.

“It shows that if you stand up to bigotry you can win in 21st century London."

The decision means the flags will be up when London hosts Euro-Pride in 2006. The event attracts thousands of gays from throughout Europe and is expected to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars as the city continues to recover from the terrorist attack on the subway system.

©365Gay.com 2005


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