In May of this year a student led campaign was launched calling “For Queen’s University Belfast to Fly the Rainbow Flag during Belfast Pride”. According to the campaigns Facebook page, the lobby was established with the aim of encouraging “Queen’s University to publicly and visibly show support to it’s many LGBT+ students and staff (as well as those throughout Northern Ireland as a whole) on Pride Day Sat 1st Aug in line with their own Equality and Diversity Policy.”
Last week, QUB Senate rejected calls from the student lobby.
Dissatisfied with the Senate’s decision, QUB Sinn Féin sent the following email to the VC.
“Dear Mr Johnson,
This email is being sent in regards to the universities senate’s decision to reject a proposal to fly the rainbow flag on campus during Belfast Pride in solidarity with the LGBT+ community.
We at QUB Sinn Féin are deeply disappointed by this decision and feel that it is in no way representative of the opinion of the majority of students attending the university. The decision is very disheartening for those students at the university who belong to the LGBT+ community and will only serve to make them feel less accepted and uncomfortable in their university. This decision achieves nothing other than this and benefits nobody.
The rainbow flag is flown over many other universities in the UK and Ireland, thus Queen’s University has fallen behind the progression of our ever evolving society. For being a self-proclaimed “exceptional” university, this decision has been nothing short of exceptionally disappointing.
We as a society, as well as thousands of other students, will continue to protest against this decision until it has been rectified and out friends and family in the LGBT+ community are equally represented and supported in the university.”
The Vice Chancellor replied,
In a statement the political youth wing said “Part of their reasoning for this decision is their belief that the rainbow flag is “likely to be provocative, offensive or intimidatory”…In doing this they are contradicting the university’s own policy of “actively promoting equality”, and instead turning their backs on the LGBT+ community within the university.
We at QUB Sinn Féin find this reasoning shameful and simply disgusting. Equality hurts nobody.”
We will bring you more on this story as it develops.
Additional background information:
– QUB Senate is the Governing Body of Queen’s University. It is made up of 27 members – Chancellor; Pro-Chancellors (3); President and Vice-Chancellor; Honorary Treasurer; President, Students’ Union; Academic Council (3 members); Academic Staff (2 members); Support Staff (2 members); Students’ Union Council (1 member); Convocation (2 members); Co-opted Lay Members (10 members).
– This is not the first time QUB Sinn Féin have come to blows with the Vice Chancellor at QUB. Last semester, the political party youth wing protested outside the Lanyon building against the extent of the Vice Chancellor’s living expenses.
– In 2012, The LGBT Society at Queen’s University Students’ Union positioned a stall in the union’s foyer, where they collected 284 signatures in support of flying the Rainbow flag from the Lanyon building during Belfast Pride. An online petition was also launched however the decision of the then Senate & VC, Sir Peter Gregson, was not overturned.
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