Pride flags stolen in ‘deliberate and targeted homophobic attacks’

Multiple attempts to steal Pride flags in the Irish city of Galway were “deliberate and targeted homophobic attacks”, a councillor has said.

Social Democrats Galway City East councillor Owen Hanley has called for hate crime legislation to better “protect the freedoms” of LGBT+ people.

The flag was stolen six times in the city after it was raised for a festival on 12 August.

Hanley, a member of the Galway Pride committee and the first openly gay man to be elected as a city councillor, told the Galway Advertiser: “The first attempt was during Leaving Cert results night so we just figured it was reckless behaviour, but the fourth time in the space of a week is a targeted attack and an attempt to intimidate the community.

“But we are a strong and resilient community and we will not take this sitting down.”

The flag was stolen from Eyre Square in Galway twice (Wiki Commons)

He added: “I absolutely do not want to overstate this, but homophobic incidents happen in Galway.

“They happen a lot. They happen too much. If you were watching the Pride parade last Saturday and listening to the chants you might think, ‘They’re an angry bunch.’ But this is why.

“A lot of people do not know this kind of thing is happening in their city.”

Hanley added: “There is broad feeling of not being comfortable with always holding your partners hand in public, because you don’t know if you’re really in a safe space. There’s a general feeling of not being able to be comfortable about being yourself.

“For a lot of people the only place they feel safe is within their community. We know we can get through things like this, but you still have to deal with these things after the fact, and the problem becomes how to tackle such attitudes and incidents so that they do not happen again.”