Release date: 17 May 2018
The colourful stripes of the rainbow flag can be seen flying from fire stations and West Sussex County Council buildings across the county today, championing the importance of inclusion and diversity.
The flags have been raised to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and see the local authority unite with thousands of organisations around the world to celebrate the LGBT+ community.
The occasion has added weight this year, with firefighters from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (WSFRS) also raising the flag from a number of their fire stations for the first time.
Leader of West Sussex County Council Louise Goldsmith said: "Raising the rainbow flag is a simple but clear demonstration of our support for all LGBT+ communities.
“It demonstrates that we are opposed to all forms of discrimination, harassment, bullying, and hate crime.
“While much has already been achieved, a lot remains to be done to ensure the social acceptance of people from minority communities. West Sussex County Council is determined to play its part in this, and I hope that flying the rainbow flag today goes some way to reassuring people of our commitment to this.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Neil Stocker, said he was proud the fire and rescue service was marking IDAHOBIT this year. He said: “Flying the rainbow flag from ten of our fire stations across the county sends an important message out to the communities we serve that the fire service champions and values diversity.
“Our fire and rescue service is a vital part of the community and strives to keep every person in that community safe.”
Debbie Kennard, the county council’s cabinet member for safer, stronger communities, said she was also very proud the fire service was taking part. She said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see the rainbow flag flying from so many of WSFRS’s buildings today to raise awareness of the stigma that so many people around the world still face on a day-to-day basis.”
The county council has recently restarted its LGBT+ Staff Group which is being led by county planning team manager Jane Moseley. She said: “Raising the rainbow flag is a small thing, but it means a lot to those of us in the LGBT+ community. It means our employer recognises and supports us, which helps all of us to feel more comfortable being ourselves at work.
“IDAHOBIT is about challenging bigoted behaviour, but also celebrating that people are just people, whatever their gender, sexuality, ability, race, job title, or political affiliation.”