UEA flying the Pride flag above the Registry. [PC: The University of East Anglia]
UEA flying the Pride flag above the Registry. [PC: The University of East Anglia]
Norwich is getting a rainbow makeover in preparation for this weekend’s Pride Event.

Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies have revealed a new Pride car in a bid to reach out to the LGBT community and to encourage victims of hate crimes to report homophobic hate incidents. The rainbow-coloured car is marked with the word ‘Pride’ and also features the LGBT flag combined with the logo of the Norfolk and Suffolk Police.

A Norwich Pride spokesperson said that they believe the car “sends out a positive message, especially since the massacre in Orlando, that LGBT+ people should report hate crimes.

“The police have come a long way since they prosecuted gay men for illegal homosexuality activity and surveillance. The law should be on our side now given same sex marriage and the Equality Act 2010.”

Norwich Pride also said they welcomed the initiative and are looking forward to “having the car visible and on our side” at the Norwich Pride parade this weekend.

The patrol car will lead Saturday’s Pride parade, leaving from City Hall at 1pm, after having been parked near Chapelfield Gardens and the Forum from 10am. .

Norfolk’s Deputy Chief Constable, Charlie Hall, welcomed the decision.  “I’m really pleased to see our car take to the roads of Norfolk & Suffolk. It signifies our continued commitment in supporting our diverse communities. This sends out a clear message that hate crime will not be tolerated in Norfolk & Suffolk and I’d like to encourage any victims of a hate crime to contact the police.”

Benjamin Gotts of Norfolk & Suffolk LGBT+ Police Network  said that it was an “exciting time”, and hopes that the rainbow car demonstrates police support for the LGBT+ community in Norwich, particularly police employees.

Gotts continued, “Being supported by your employer and being encouraged to step out of the shadows and be yourself is hugely reassuring; we’re all better people, and more productive employees, when we can be true to ourselves.” He added that the police “look forward to meeting communities across the region soon” with the decorated car.

Stonewall, an LGBT charity organisation, included Norfolk Constabulary in their 2016 list of the “top 100 most inclusive employers in Britain”, compiled using the organisation’s Workplace Equality Index.

There will be a pride flag flying at the Bethel Street Police Station in the centre of the city over the weekend. The city centre station has become the latest addition to string of a venues to fly the flag, including City Hall, Castle Museum and Norwich Puppet Theatre.

Another place the Pride flag will be flown is the University of East Anglia, who revealed a photo of the flag flying on the university campus today. The flag is currently above the Registry, and has been a long term goal of many students and staff at the university.

UEA’s Vice Chancellor, David Richardson, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Norwich Pride this weekend by flying the rainbow flag at UEA. We have listened to the many students and staff who wanted the flag to be flown as a demonstration of our diverse and welcoming campus and we are proud to do so.”

Theodore Antoniou-Phillips, Undergraduate Officer and former LGBT officer, welcomed the move by UEA. He said, “After years of asking, campaigning and pushing from a number of LGBT+ officers, UEA have finally flown the rainbow flag. What seems like a simple action means a lot. The rainbow flag is a public display of being proud of an identity that too often people are made to feel ashamed about. In flying the flag is publicly saying it is proud of its LGBT+ students and staff.

“This is a proud day for the university, but mostly it is a win for all those LGBT+ activists that signed petitions, sent emails and pushed the university.”

Pride starts at 10:30am Saturday morning, with the Parade beginning at 1pm.