Elderly Gay Couple Forced to Remove Pride Flag in Australia

Wednesday October 14, 2015

An elderly gay couple from Australia was ordered to take down a rainbow gay pride flag from their home after officials from the organization that owns their apartment threatened legal action.

Murray Sheldrick, 78, and his partner James Bellia, 72, said they received a "nasty" email from the Melbourne Inner City Management Property Owners Corporation last week, which demanded the men remove a gay pride flag from their apartment balcony or face legal action, the Australian reports.

The letter argues that the couple breached the corporation's rules by "displaying advertising material on their balcony."

"Failure to carry out the action required within the prescribed time may result in the Owners Corporation invoking dispute resolution or taking further action against you at (the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal)," the letter reportedly reads.

Sheldrick said he and Bellia are "victims of homophobic actions." Bella added the flag had been flying since February and they haven't received any complaints.

"This is the first time we've heard about it - this abrupt letter," Bellia told the Australian. "What advertising? It represents gay pride. We are the owners but we don't seem to have any rights.I think we should have rights and it's a bit much to tell us we can't have our rainbow flag on our terrace.

"Are we living in a democracy or not? What harm is our rainbow flag doing anyone?" he added.

Officials from Port Phillip, where the couple resides, have shown their support for the men as mayor Amanda Stevens said the rainbow flag is not "advertising material."

"We in the City of Port Phillip are strong supporters of the (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community and the rainbow flag is the international symbol which represents that community," Stevens said.

She added the city's council has no laws relating to the flag.

According TheAge.com, the couple has been together for 50 years and has lived in the apartment for 11 years.

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