Anger as pride month flag snubbed by Derbyshire council again

By Samantha Noble
BBC News

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Rainbow flagImage source, Gregory Maskalick
Image caption,
Last year villagers put up their own flags in June

Villagers say they are "bitterly disappointed" after a council voted against flying a rainbow flag during Pride month for a second year running.

Ockbrook and Borrowash Parish Council in Derbyshire has opted to display it for one day in September instead.

Resident Katie Eaglesham-Atkins said flying the flag during Pride month was important to support the LGBT community and commemorate the Stonewall riots.

The council said it chose September instead to coincide with a Pride event.

Last year, the council did not fly the flag at all, saying it could give "the appearance that one part of our community is being made more special than all the others".

However, some defiant villagers flew their own throughout June.

Image source, Katie Eaglesham-Atkins
Image caption,
Katie Eaglesham-Atkins (left), photographed here with her wife Trish and children, said she wants the flag flown so people know they will not be judged there

Mrs Eaglesham-Atkins, from Borrowash, said at recent council meetings residents had asked the council to fly the flag during Pride month.

She said it was important "to celebrate and commemorate" the Stonewall riots in June 1969 where a police raid on a gay bar in New York prompted widespread demonstrations.

The 36-year-old added she also thought the flag should be flown throughout the month so "people feel safe to come to the village".

Image source, Gregory Maskalick
Image caption,
Residents said people will fly the rainbow flags outside their homes and businesses again this year

Talking about the council's decision to fly it in September, she said: "That is a good thing to do but the biggest thing is to try and get across the point of Pride month and why it is important.

"It seems ours are some of the few [councils] which are refusing to fly the flag, which is bitterly disappointing.

"They are supposed to represent the parish as a whole and unfortunately they ignored us last year and for the last 12 months."

Image source, Gregory Maskalick
Image caption,
Gregory Maskalick said the issue was not just about the flag but "about recognising diversity and celebrating diversity"

Gregory Maskalick, of Ockbrook, who was voted in as an independent parish councillor in May, said he decided to run due to the council not recognising Pride month, as well as to "represent all people of the parish".

"We have to move forward and join the 21st Century and not the 19th, and make this right," the 61-year-old said.

"As a parish councillor, I am going to work with them [the council] and get them to step forward and get this resolved.

"A year on, we are still stuck in the same place and it is a real shame."

'Token gesture'

Another Borrowash resident, Tania Stevenson, said last year's flag snub was an "insult" and the council had "continued on the same path".

However, she said some positives have come out the decision as two new community groups have been formed as a result - the Ockbrook and Borrowash Neighbourhood Network, which organises events, and the Diversity Collective.

"It has brought us together in a way we never would have otherwise," she said.

She described flying the flag for one day in September as "the most token of token gestures".

"It is more than just a flag. It is failure to listen to the community," she said.

The parish council said: "It was a unanimous parish council decision to decide to fly the flag in conjunction with Derby's virtual Pride day, on 4 September 2021."

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