Durban City Hall forces DA councillor to take down LGBTI rainbow flag

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A defiant attempt to fly the rainbow LGBTI Pride flag outside the Durban City Hall on Thursday has been thwarted by the EThekwini Municipality.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Councillor Martin Meyer had earlier requested that the municipality raise the flag to mark international Pride month, a request that was denied.

He and a small group nevertheless went ahead. “We managed to raise the flag, followed by the singing of the national anthem. After we finished singing, the City Hall security came to us and forced us to unfortunately bring the flag down,” Meyer told Mambaonline.

Meyer said that despite being forced to take down the flag, he feels that their point, that the City of Durban belongs to all of those who reside in it, was indeed made clear to the EThekwini Municipality.

“We now have various flags and we will fly them at different councillor’s offices across the city. If City Hall is not made accessible to members of the LGBTI community, then we will make the councillors offices accessible to the members of the community,” he added.

Meyer reached out to Mambaonline in an email earlier this week in which he stated that his motion submitted to the EThekwini Municipality was refused by Council Speaker, William Mapena.

Meyer said that the motion had listed three requests; that the City recognise Pride Month, the city fly the Pride flag outside City Hall for the whole month and that it engage in a programme of sensitivity training with the Metro Police on LGBTI matters.

Mapena’s reason for rejecting this motion, according to Meyer, was because it was not a local government matter and should thus not be debated in Council.

Kim Lithgow from the Same Love Toti organisation, who was present at the flag raising, is disappointed that the municipality refuses to offer any support to the LGBTI community.

“It is imperative that those in authority visibly support the rights of LGBTI to exist and live authentically. Currently we have corrective rape, discrimination, bomb threats, violence and murders, all in the name of homophobia. Those in authority need to publicly make a stand against these hate crimes, and those that ignore the Constitution. Dignity and equality is a human right for all South Africans, ” she said in a comment to Mambaonline.

In 2014, Mambaonline reported that the EThekwini Municipal Council had refused to express support for Durban LGBTI Pride. The then Council Speaker, Logie Naidoo, refused Meyer’s request to proclaim the city’s support for Durban Pride during a council meeting.

The EThekwini Municipality was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The city of Durban will be hosting its annual LGBTI Durban Pride on Saturday, June 30 2018.

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