Someone is cutting down gay pride flags in Sørlandet (Southern Norway) and hanging up banners urging that the “homo-lobby” be crushed. The banners, at least, are “signed” by a right-wing extremists’ website ironically called Frihetskamp (Freedom fight).
They’re clearly not in favour of gender freedom or equality. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reports that the anti-gay campaign has sprung up publicly in connection with this week’s opening of a gay pride event in Kristiansand called Skeive sørlandsdager.
Four of the rainbow-coloured flags representing the gender pride movement were cut down from flagstands in Kristiansand during the night. Monica Strand Korgerud of the local association for gender diversity said participants in the events planned through the weekend are beginning to feel afraid.
“We clearly feel some anxiety,” Korgerud told NRK. “It’s easy to think about what happened in Orlando, or fear marching in a parade.”
Sørlandet is known for its communities of fundamental Christians who don’t tolerate homosexuality or gender diversity. Knut Arild Hareide, head of the Christian Democrats party, was harsly criticized by some party fellows over his decision to march in Oslo’s gay pride parade in June, in a show of solidarity. Several Christian Democrats publicly left the party in protest.
Organizers of this week’s pride event plan a parade for Saturday and some participants have begun wondering whether it will be safe. Korgerud said the group would contact the police to inquire about security arrangements.
In Oslo, police not only were on patrol during the capital’s large annual pride parade but many police officers marched themselves, in uniform.
There was no immediate comment from the radical right-wing organization that owns the website, Den Nordiske Motstandsbevegelsen (The Nordic Resistance Movement). A member who took the phone told NRK that he didn’t want to comment on whether they were the ones behind the banners and flag-cutting.
“But I think it’s good that the banners are hanging around the city,” he told NRK. “I also think it’s positive the flags were cut down. We can’t have that kind of garbage around.”
Korgerud, meanwhile, was urging not just other Christian organizations but “everyone” to denounce the banners and distance themselves from them, “whether they’re Christians, Muslims or atheists. I hope sørlendingene (southerner) will not show the love and openness and willingness that we have here to show that everyone is welcome.”