A North Tawton Town Councillor has expressed his shock after the Pride flags, which had been raised in support of LGBTQ+ history month, were vandalised and ripped from the flag poles outside the town council building.

Cllr Christian Martin, who suggested raising the flags to celebrate different sexualities and gender identities, described the incident as 'terrible' and 'shocking' after he replaced the missing flags with a second set when he discovered they had been removed and there was damage to the flag poles themselves. He said he will be reporting the incident to the police.

Cllr Martin originally suggested flying the flag in a show of support for those of different sexualities and gender identities after he received positive comments for flying the rainbow flag on his house previously.

He said: ‘We need to up our game. A lot of kids coming out of the pandemic are saying they want to explore their sexuality and a lot of people who were rather quiet about their sexuality have come out and there are quite a lot of people who want to see themselves represented.

‘A young transgender person who saw the flags I put outside my house before loved the fact that they were there. There are a lot of kids with mental health problems and insecurities about their sexuality and we should recognise that it’s ok to think and explore these things.’

The decision to fly the flag was passed by majority with seven out of eleven councillors agreeing to fund the purchase of a rainbow flag and a Progress Pride flag which are now in situ on the town council building.

Cllr Martin explained that some people had called the proposition ‘controversial’ and ‘provocative,’ but Cllr Martin defended himself arguing that it was especially important for children to understand that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual, bisexual, transgender or non-binary.

It comes on the back of the success of the first-ever Tavistock Pride event in June last year which attracted hundreds of people and North Tawton Town Council has also agreed to fly the rainbow flag again this June for Pride month.

LGBTQ+ history month runs throughout February and aims to teach people about the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and gay rights movements. This is different from Pride month which takes place in June on an annual basis and celebrates the LGBTQ+ communities across the world.