Posters follow Rainbow flag burnings
WATERFORD'S equality row has dramatically escalated with 'Straight Pride' posters being erected across the city just days after two separate incidents of the Rainbow pride flag being cut down and publicly burned.
Waterford politicians, business leaders and equality campaigners expressed outrage after the Rainbow Pride flag was cut down and burned from outside City Hall on The Mall on June 7.
The multi-coloured flag - symbol of the LGBTQ community - was flown on the Mall to mark Waterford Pride Of The Deise (POTD) weekend.
The flag burning was greeted by widespread condemnation with Waterford Mayor Councillor Damien Geoghegan, who had proposed that the flag be flown to mark the local pride event, saying it was "a disgusting and outrageous act."
He later attended a second re-erecting of the flag alongside members of Waterford POTD.
However, Rainbow flags were again cut down overnight in the city centre days later.
At the same time, homophobic graffiti was sprayed near a popular Dublin venue for members of the LGBTQ community.
Now, 'Straight Pride' posters were erected overnight in parts of Waterford city centre - depicting a man and a woman getting married with the caption 'It is natural, it has worked for thousands of years and you can make babies.'
It is unclear who was behind the 'Straight Pride' posters and whether it was linked to the flag burnings.
However, one Waterford artist has said the proud city was being dragged into disrepute over the equality row.
Poet and writer Wayne Power said it was hard to understand what an obviously very small minority hoped to achieve.
“This idea of ‘Oh, why isn’t there a Straight Pride?’ I would say to them, ‘Do you know what? You should be counting your lucky stars that you don’t have to have a straight pride.’ When you can’t hold your partner’s hand in public for fear of a bit of abuse, or in a bar for fear of being glassed, then you can come to me and talk about Straight Pride," he told WLRFM.
“I think they clearly have a lot of time on their hands to be making up posters like that. If they could just kind of educate themselves and see why Pride exists in the first place.”
Members of the LGBTQ community in the south east were deeply upset by the flag burnings, graffiti and now the 'Straight Pride' poster campaign.
One said the recent incidents had left them "gutted".
Mr Power has now vowed to donate all the proceeds from the sales of his new book to Waterford youth service, ‘Chill Out’, which helps young LGBTQ people.
Waterford Gardaí are treating the flag burning on the Mall as an act of criminal damage.
Pride Of The Deise secretary Shane O'Sullivan admitted they were shocked that such an act could occur locally.
“We have to be visible when things like this happen," he said.
POTD said they were delighted that the mayor agreed to re-raise the Rainbow flag with them on the Mall.
“What happened has really shocked us all and what we endeavour to do in Pride of the Deise is try to build a community and make a safe space in Waterford (for young gay people)."
"What happened with the flags was an absolute show of hate towards us and that breeds a situation whereby young people especially might not feel that they are comfortable to come out within themselves and to be visible.”
The group said raising the flag again on the Mall with such community support was hugely symbolic.
“Small signs of hate that exist won’t put us down,” he vowed.