Rainbow flag does not represent our whole nation: Christian Institute
The Christian Institute has criticised a decision to display the rainbow flag above the UK Parliament 'as if it represents the views of everybody'.
The traditionalist campaign group noted that Parliament had been heavily divided over the legalisation of gay marriage only a few years ago.
The display of the flag comes weeks after the government entered a pact with the DUP, which has long opposed gay marriage.
The rainbow flag – commonly flown by campaigners for the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, “queer” and questioning (LGBTIQQ) people – was raised over Portcullis House adjoining the Palace of Westminster on Friday, replacing a Union Flag.
Portcullis House contains offices for about a third of MPs.
The flag then came down yesterday, and the Union Flag was raised again.
This is the second year in a row the rainbow flag has flown at Parliament.
Asked if flags representing other campaigns or minority groups had flown there before, the corporate affairs office for the House of Commons said the only other example was the Olympic flag, raised during the 2012 Games in London.
The Christian Institute (which came to prominence in Northern Ireland with its legal support for Ashers bakery during the so-called gay cake case) said whilst the flag “is touted as a symbol of inclusion”, it has come to represent “the suppression of even the mildest dissent”.
It said: “This is especially true for Christians who, although they love their homosexual friends and family, frequently find themselves being bullied for not being willing to wave the LGBT flag themselves.
“When the Westminster Parliament debated same-sex marriage in 2013, hundreds of politicians voted against it, representing millions of people who believe in traditional marriage.
“LGBT issues were divisive then and they remain divisive now. The Speaker must be aware of this.
“He should not be hoisting the ‘Pride’ flag over Parliament as if it represents the views of everybody in the place; let alone the view of the nation as a whole. It does not.”
In the two major votes on gay marriage in the Commons in 2013, over 40% of the MPs who voted were against it.
The rainbow flag was raised last Friday at the request of a group called “ParliOUT”, which obtained permission from the House Speaker John Bercow.
ParliOUT describes itself as a “workplace equality network” to support people who are “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and plus” in Parliament.
It is open to MPs, Lords, and their staff, and is understood to be funded by a £5,000 grant annually.
It has a membership of nearly 400 people; however, the Commons’ corporate affairs office cannot say who its members are due to data protection requirements.
It also said that no record could be found of which individual came up with the idea of flying the rainbow flag – suggesting it could have been a non-public figure who holds no seat in Parliament, as opposed to a lord or MP.
In addition to hoisting a rainbow flag, Parliament was also illuminated in its colours on Friday to coincide with the capital’s gay pride festivities at the weekend.
The Commons’ corporate affairs office said it had only been illuminated in recent years once in 2012 (the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee) and then four times in 2016.
These were the Queen’s official and unofficial birthdays, the commemoration of the Nice terror attacks, and the “Red Wednesday” campaign (a campaign to highlight people being persecuted for their beliefs, run by Aid to the Church in Need UK).
Last week the rainbow flag flew above Palace Barracks in Holywood, Co Down.