Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The eThekwini executive committee cannot instruct the municipality to recognise the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex (LGBTI) Pride month.

This is the response from eThekwini speaker William Mapena to the committee’s objection to a motion to hoist a rainbow flag at the Durban city hall.

This was after DA councillor Martin Meyer put forward a motion on Tuesday for the flag to be raised in the city‚ for Durban to recognise Pride month, and for sensitivity training for metro police to make them more aware of the needs of the LGBTI community.

Mapena said: "The executive committee cannot instruct that the eThekwini municipality do something. It recommends to council for something to be done and it is council that has the authority to make a decision in that regard. Therefore, the motion was rejected and this was officially communicated to the speakers and party whips meeting, and to councillor Martin Meyer."

However‚ he also sent a written response to Meyer stating that the motion was objected to because it was not relevant to local government issues. In an act of defiance‚ gay DA councillor Meyer plans to hoist a rainbow flag at Durban’s city hall on Thursday.

Meyer said: "The eThekwini council speaker would not debate my motion on hoisting the rainbow flag and recognising Pride month, so on Thursday, we will go to city hall and raise the flag ourselves‚ as the city hall belongs to all residents including the members of the LGBTI community."

He said the flag would also fly at various councillors’ offices. "These offices are council properties and we will declare these offices as welcoming to the LGBTI community, if City Hall is not."

Pride month is observed in June each year to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan‚ New York. The riots have been described as a tipping point for the gay liberation movement in the US.

Durban has never recognised Pride month. "In the past, we did ask for the flag to be flown. We were once allowed to debate it but it was voted down," Meyer said. "Other than that‚ we were never allowed to even debate it. That was a time when there was rampant homophobia in the council‚ but it has calmed down a bit since then."