Swedish far-right council votes to stop flying Pride flag

Swedish far-right council votes to stop flying Pride flag
A rainbow flag hanging outside the Dutch embassy in Stockholm (we are aware it is upside down). Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT
The home town of Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson has ruled that the gay pride flag should no longer fly outside the local council offices.
In a vote on Thursday evening, city councillors representing the ruling four-party coalition of Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats, Moderates and the local SoL party, ruled that the flag should no longer be hoisted. 
 
“For us tradition is important and I know that many of our older citizens share that feeling,” Louise Erixon, the local leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats and Åkesson's long-term partner, told the local Blekinge Läns Tidning newspaper. 
 
Nicolas Westrup, the party's group leader, said that it was wrong to fly a political symbol outside the council offices. 
 
“This is a flag which should not be hanging on our flagpoles,” he said. “The pride flag has been political from the start. Should we hoist other political flags on our flagpoles?” '
 
The Sweden Democrats in the neighbouring town of Ronneby also want to ban the flag. 
 
The gay pride organisation in the nearby city of Karlskrona said that the decision was a “disturbing development”, and announced that they would next year hold a pride parade in Solvesborg for the first time in response. 
 
The decision has also split Sweden's centre-right Moderate Party, with Filippa Reinfeldt, the party's spokesperson on HBTQ issues criticising it as “inappropriate”. 
 
“If the decision concerns the Pride Flag, it is absolutely inappropriate and is not in keeping with the Moderate party's position.”
 
“I see the Pride flag as a symbol of freedom and the right to be and love who you want.” 
 
Sophia Ahlin, the Moderate politician who runs the Pride organisation in the local Blekinge county, said she aimed to protest the decision at the party's regional and national level.
 
“This is a decision which goes completely against what the Moderate Party stands for in the question of equal rights,” she said. “The decision is not rooted in a wish to bring order to the local flag policy. The fundamental idea instead seems to be to stop Pride,” she said. 
 
“I think it is serious that we have members who openly work against diversity and openness.” 
 

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