“Out of Order” – Military Town Clashes Over Pride Flag Near War Memorial

A military town’s effort to promote inclusivity by raising a Pride flag near its war memorial ignited controversy and vandalism, highlighting deep community divisions and raising questions about the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in the community. Here’s the full story.

Chilling Sign

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In a chilling sign of what the constant barrage of anti-LGBTQ+ news coverage is having on the discussion around the rights of those individuals and their public perception, a small military town in England has found itself thrust into the debate surrounding LGBTQ+ rights in the UK.

LGBTQ+ Acceptance

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The town of Ludgershall, in Wiltshire, saw a benign act of LGBTQ+ acceptance, raising a Pride flag in the town centre, turn unexpectedly into a firestorm of controversy. 

Long History

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The town, which has a long history with the British Army, having housed the 26 Engineering Regiment and acting as a staging post for vehicles in the run-up to D-Day, found itself without warning at the centre of a heated debate around LGBTQ rights. 

Hate Crime

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The Ludgershall Town Council’s seemingly uncontroversial decision to hoist the LGBTQ+ Pride flag next to the town’s war memorial ignited a series of events that culminated in vandalism and an ongoing police investigation of a hate crime. 

Pride Month

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The Ludgershall Town Council erected the Pride flag to mark the beginning of Pride Month and to celebrate the LGBTQ+ residents of the town. 

“Progressive Town”

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Owen White, the mayor and chairman of the council, stated that the flag was raised not for any nefarious reason but simply to show that Ludgershall was a “progressive council in a progressive town.”

“Good Visual Place”

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The flag was displayed on a flagpole explicitly chosen for its central location, deemed a “good visual place” for the community to see. 

Sustained Backlash

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However, the council’s simple gesture of acceptance was met with a significant, sustained and almost immediate backlash. 

“Pointless Virtue Signalling”

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Social media erupted with criticism, with users online accusing the council of “pointless virtue signalling” and disrespecting the town’s military heritage, particularly as the 80th anniversary of D-Day approached. 

“Out of Order”

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One post, indicative of the many who spoke out against the flag’s presence, stated it was “out of order” to fly the Pride flag by the town’s war memorial during such a significant commemoration period. 

Online Abuse

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Though online abuse is, unfortunately, not uncommon against such displays of LGBTQ+ acceptance, the situation escalated when two individuals, a man and a woman, cut down the Pride flag and vandalised the flagpole. 

“Hate Crime”

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This act of vandalism, described by Owen White as a “hate crime”, was reported to the local Wiltshire Police. 

D-Day Memorial Flag

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In a remarkable display of how such acts of hate can backfire, the damaged flagpole made it impossible to replace the Pride flag with the planned D-Day memorial flag, which was to be erected to commemorate the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Nazi Europe. 

“Progress Pride”

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The “Progress Pride” flag, distinct from the traditional rainbow flag, includes additional stripes to represent marginalised communities, such as people of colour, the trans community and those living with HIV/AIDS. 

Inclusivity and Equality

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Ironically, the torn-down flag is designed to highlight the ongoing need for inclusivity and equality in society. 

“Taken Matters Into Their Own Hands”

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Danny Kruger, the Conservative candidate for the area, said that though he was sympathetic to residents’ concerns, he condemned the vandals’ having “taken matters into their own hands.”

“Object Through the Ballot Box”

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He instead urged residents to “object… through the ballot box.”

Other Activities

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Despite the hateful vandalism, which means that the town can no longer fly the planned D-Day commemorative flag, the town is still planning to commemorate D-Day with other activities, including lighting a beacon of remembrance and a party for the community in the park.

Fight Against Fascism 

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The controversy surrounding the flying of an LGBTQ+ Pride flag in Ludgershall, which was objected to so strongly by locals who felt it was disrespectful to the memories of those who fought on D-Day, is more ironic when considering what those brave men fought against. 

Died Defending Human Rights

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The erasure of minorities, the refusal to accept them, and even legislating against them were all crimes of which the Nazis were guilty, and countless thousands died defending the rights of those individuals to exist in a democracy. 

Sign of Disrespect

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While the council aimed to promote inclusivity and diversity, the seemingly innocuous placement of the Pride flag next to a war memorial was taken as a sign of disrespect by a vocal minority who objected to the freedoms fought for in the Second World War. 

“Long Way to Go”

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As the rights of LGBTQ+ people are now seemingly up for debate, it remains to be seen whether Ludgershall will be able to heal the divisions within a community which wished only to appear welcoming but which Owen White admits still has “a long way to go.”

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The post Military Town Clashes Over Pride Flag Near War Memorial first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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