Oz council sparks outrage flying gay flag instead of Australian flag

Friday, February 4, 2011

MELBOURNE - Port Phillip Council in Australia has sparked outrage after it decided to hoist a gay pride flag in place of the Australian flag.

The rainbow flag was given priority in the lead up to Sunday’s Pride March in St Kilda, and while the local and the national Aboriginal flags were kept, the Australian flag was taken down.

The move sparked outrage, and the council was accused of pandering to minority groups by flying the gay community flag above other town halls.

RSL state president Maj Gen David McLachlan said councils should realise that they represent all Australians and not one particular community group.

“Whether people are heterosexual or homosexual or alternate they are Australians and the primacy of the flag in protocol is the Australian flag and that should be flown before all other flags,” the Herald Sun quoted him as saying.

British Australian Community president Barrie Hunt said the move was insulting to the majority of Australians especially as two indigenous flags had been allowed to keep flying.

But Port Phillip Mayor Rachel Powning said the only protocol issue was that no flag could be raised above the Australian flag.

“So what we do is take down the Australian flag temporarily prior to the Pride March and raise the rainbow flag,” she said.

“The important thing is that we always have the Australian flag on display in the council chamber which is the most important area in any town hall,” she stated.

Powning said the council was following its own protocol on the issue, which allowed the Australian flag to be taken down in exceptional circumstances.

“The protocol states that the Australian flag will be flown from the highest pole on every day of the year from all of our town halls, with the exception of a number of events including … pride march,” she said.

A similar exception applied to United Nations day, Sorry Day and NAIDOC week, she said, although the policy was silent on how long those flags could be flown instead of the Australian flag.

“Many of our residents are in fact gay people. And what we’re doing is sending a message to our residents that diversity is very important to the City of Port Phillip,” she added. (ANI)

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