Town flies hundreds of Pride flags in defiance after homophobic thugs terrorise neighbourhood

A row of homes adorned with the LGBT+ Pride flag

In the Netherlands, a local community rallied together to stand up to hate after an LGBT+ Pride flag was torn down and burned by thugs.

Last month, residents in Leidsebuurt a neighbourhood in Haarlem, hoisted up Pride flags at the Badhuis Leidsebuurt, a local community centre, and the Geel-Wit football club.

But within days, both flags were torn down and one was set alight – the tattered remains left on the cobblestone street outside a primary school, according to NH, a local news outlet.

Even when staffers replaced the flags, they were ripped down once more across the six weeks they were up for.

“We were all very shocked,” Mara van Limbeek, who works at the Badhuis, said. “This is a very tolerant neighbourhood where everyone is welcome and we want to show that.”

A sense of heartbreak quickly swept over the area and locals, refusing to let LGBT+ rights be throttled by the thugs, fought back – on 29 May, more than 300 Pride flags and flyers were splashed around the town in solidarity and have been ever since.

Flags fluttered from flagpoles for weeks in the limpid Spring breeze after countless residents and community leaders launched a fundraiser to remedy the hate by buying hundreds of replacement flags and promotional flyers.

In photographs sent to PinkNews by one local resident, Pride flags can be seen adorning apartment towers and townhouses and stuck to storefront windows.

(Annejet Jürgens)

“We’ve decided that every time the flag is taken down, we’ll hang ten new flags somewhere in the neighbourhood for it,” said van Limbeek at the time to NH.

He later added: “Leidsebuurt is a neighbourhood where everyone can be who they want to be.

“A man recently said that he has never felt so welcome in a neighbourhood.

“If that’s what we all radiate here, then that’s great.”

It’s a joyous turnabout from the Leidsebuurt’s mood only days before when the singed flag left many feeling indignant and frustrated.

“I arrived at school and was earlier than my mother,” explained van Limbeek’s daughter, Pippi.

“Then I saw that the Pride flag was gone and saw a group of children standing around the burnt remains. I was quite shocked.”

And now, seemingly capturing why the flag remains a powerful symbol of hope and resilience, Pippi said her once soured mood has been uplifted since the flags were restored.

“The flag means it’s nice that everyone is different,” she said.

“And it’s good that girls can be in love together and guys can be in love together.”