Last night, a request from the Northern Irish LGBT+ advocacy group The Rainbow Project to light up Ards Town Hall in rainbow colours was approved by a slim majority vote by The Ards and North Down Council.
The town hall, in Conway Square, Newtownards, County Down will be lit up in the rainbow colours on May 13 next year during LGBT+ awareness week after it passed by just 19 votes to 18.
Two of the counsellors who voted in favour of the move were DUP members Alistair Cathcart and Tom Smith, who voted against their party.
The DUP originally suggested lighting the town hall up as pink as a compromise, but this did not happen as the party failed to pass the amendment.
Alliance councillor Andrew Muir, who made the original proposal in September which was turned down, along with Gavin Walker, 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 cited 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.”
Mark Brooks of the Ulster Unionist party also saw the vote as a positive move:
“I’m delighted the request was passed but as a unionist, I would like to see all our unionist parties being more positive and bringing motions like this to council chambers. We need to be proactive, not reactive.”
In September, councillors voted against lighting up the Northern Irish town hall in rainbow colours when the motion was defeated by 20 votes to 16 votes. The DUP claimed that they voted against the motion because they acknowledged “the many positive contributions from residents, workers and visitors to the borough,” regardless of religious beliefs, political opinion, race, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
Many Northern Irish and international landmarks are lit up in rainbow colours every year for Pride events, including Belfast City Hall.
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