The LGBTQ residents of Hamtramck, Michigan voiced their feelings of "betrayal" over the Muslim city council’s decision to remove Pride flags from public property, according to the Washington Post.
The council unanimously voted in June to ban Pride flags from public flag poles, citing a desire to respect the religious rights of citizens opposed to the symbol. This decision, months later, is still considered an act of betrayal by LGBTQ citizens to the symbol of "diversity" they hoped the council would uphold.
"Many residents in this tiny enclave just north of downtown Detroit saw these changes as a sign of Hamtramck’s progressiveness. The Muslim community that had previously experienced discrimination, including voter intimidation and resistance to mosques’ public call to prayer, had finally taken its seats at the table," the Post reported.
It continued, "Yet the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity that made Hamtramck something of a model is being put severely to the test. In June, after divisive debate, the six-member council blocked the display of Pride flags on city property — action that has angered allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community, who feel that the support they provided the immigrant groups has been reciprocated with betrayal."
Former council member Catrina Stackpoole, who identifies as gay, was quoted saying, "We welcomed you," adding "We created nonprofits to help feed, clothe, find housing. We did everything we could to make your transition here easier, and this is how you repay us, by stabbing us in the back?"
President of the Hamtramck Queer Alliance John Hansknecht also criticized the decision, insisting that the "sole purpose was absolutely to go after the gay pride flag" and that the ban "has always been about being anti-queer rather than the neutrality they claimed."
Mayor Amer Ghalib, who is also Muslim, defended the decision, noting that the resolution barred all but five flags from being flown on city property.
"We’re not targeting anybody," Ghalib said. "We are trying to close the door for other groups that could be extremist or racist."
Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, however, also spoke out against the resolution at a protest rally.
"I ask the city of Hamtramck to use its voice to speak up for all its people, take down the wall you have now built that has made this proud city into a national embarrassment," Nessel said. "Make no mistake, homophobia, transphobia are indeed forms of evil as much as Islamophobia is."
The motion allows for the flying of five different flags on public property: the U.S. flag, the Michigan flag, the Hamtramck flag, the Prisoner of War flag and a unique flag representing the nations from which many Hamtramck citizens hail from.
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