A motion proposing that the LGBT flag should be flown in celebration of LGBT History Month was approved on Monday night by Oriel JCR.
The motion, which passed unanimously, called for the rainbow flag to be flown for one week. The motion stated that “This would be in order to help publicise Oriel’s welcoming environment for members and applicants of all diverse sexualities”, and is to be followed by a “Queerbop” to be held on Friday of 8th Week.
Natasha Bassett, Oriel JCR President, commented, “The motion to fly the LGBT flag was passed last night with a large majority, so as to show support for LGBT History Month, to show support for the LGBTQ community at large, and specifically within Oriel, and to celebrate diversity and equality.”
However, she added, “It’s not for certain that it will fly, seeing as this will have to go through college”.
Justin King-Lacriox, who has proposed a similar, parallel motion to be considered by Oriel MCR on Sunday of 6th Week, told Cherwell that “while today’s UK is among the most progressive nations in the world in terms of LGBT rights, many nations across the world remain unsafe for LGBT people – particularly those in the former British Empire. For this reason among many, an institution as well-known, well-respected, and iconically British as the University of Oxford making such a strong statement of opinion can have profound effects on the international stage.”
Simone Webb, LGBTQ Society President, was supportive of the Oriel motion. “I think it’s really great to see symbols of LGBTQ identity and history flying anywhere to increase our presence and people’s awareness, and particularly from buildings associated with an institution such as Oxford, which has a (probably unfair) reputation for conservatism.”
Whether or not to display the LGBT flag has previously been a contentious issue at Oxford colleges. Last year, St Anne’s College refused to fly the flag despite a motion being passed in the JCR. St Anne’s claimed that it was unable to comply with the JCR’s request because it was against college policy. St Hugh’s will not be flying the flag this year either, following a controversial online survey last summer in which more than one student compared the flag to a swastika.
LGBT History Month takes place every February and aims to “celebrate the lives and achievements of the LGBT community”. This year’s celebrations will be dedicated to “Maths, Science and Engineering” and will include events and meetings across the country.
Katie Collliver, OUSU Vice-President for Welfare and Equal Opportunities, commented, “Raising the rainbow flag during February is a simple gesture that colleges can make to show that they support their LGBTQ students and take their issues seriously.
“It was great to see so many common rooms work with their colleges to fly the flag last year to celebrate the contribution that LGBTQ students and staff have made, and will make, to their community. I hope that colleges choose to celebrate LGBTQ History Month with similar enthusiasm this year.”
Tom Oakley of Hertford College told Cherwell, “I really hate that stupid flag on an aesthetic level, but flying it might strike joy into the heart of at least one person so I suppose it can’t be a bad thing.”