Group raises flag for equality and diversity

A RAINBOW flag can be seen flying high above Bassetlaw Council offices this week, as the authority joins in the celebrations for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans (LGBT) History Month.

The national event takes place every February to celebrate the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. But it is the first time the council has raised the flag at Queens Buildings, on Potter Street, in Worksop.

Bassetlaw Labour councillor Ian Campbell proposed to hoist the flag up last year, but the invitation was turned down by the council.

He said: “It was rejected last year for reasons I do not know. This year we have a new administration and it is on the agenda.”

“It’s targeted at celebrating the history of the minority and raising issues of gay rights and how far we have still got to go for equality.”

“The flag is a symbol for people in the gay community. They will see Bassetlaw Council is pro-equality - it is on the agenda - and we are doing something about it.”

“We have a duty to look after everyone in the community. If some part of the community is feeling left out it is important we bring them back in.”

Coun Campbell, who is Bassetlaw born and bred, said he is regularly contacted anonymously by people having problems about their sexuality.

“They are scared about coming out and they feel like they have no-one to talk to,” he added.

“We have a long way to go for equality.”

Members of Worksop Out on Wednesday (WOW) group also attended the hoisting of the flag on Tuesday.

Group leader Helen Azar-Sadler believes hoisting the flag sends out a positive message.

“It’s dragging Bassetlaw kicking and screaming out of the dark ages,” she said.

WOW provide weekly sessions at Centre Place, on Abbey Street, to support young people aged 16-25 with their sexual orientation.

Coun Mike Quigley, who was leader of the Conservative administration at Bassetlaw Council last year, denied any political interference.

“The protocol was laid down before the council, it was quite specific about what flags could be raised,” he said.

“It was a question of criteria of what could be flown and when.”

“The policy was there for a reason to stop issues like this raising a head.”

He added: “I can only assume the policy is no longer in place.”

David Hunter, Chief Executive of Bassetlaw Council said: “Following the positive reaction to last year’s displays on LGBT History month and taking a lead from other authorities such as Nottingham City Council, I took the decision as Chief Executive to fly the rainbow flag in Bassetlaw to support and celebrate the LGBT community.”