Mayor Juan Antonio Cívico Llamas has hung out the rainbow flag to mark international LGBTQ Pride month for several years, but he was forced to remove it last week after three residents of Villanueva de Algaidas complained, according to a statement.
The flag was hung in order to show that Villanueva de Algaidas is an „open, diverse, pluralistic, inclusive and committed town which celebrates equality and diversity,“ the statement reads. „But sadly this gesture did not last long.“
Since a recent Supreme Court ruling, Spanish authorities are banned from hanging unofficial flags from municipal buildings, and the council was obliged to remove the flag.
However, one man decided the town would celebrate Pride anyway.
Antonio Carlos Alcantara Pastrana grew up in the small town inland from Malaga but now lives on the coast in Torremolinos, where he owns a shop.
Alcantara told CNN he had been planning to sell rainbow flags at the Pride parade in Torremolinos, but the event was canceled due to coronavirus.
When he heard about the flag being taken down in Villanueva de Algaidas, he posted on the local Facebook group, offering free flags to anyone who wanted one and was inundated with positive replies.
„The whole town wanted a flag,“ he said.
In the end, Alcantara says, he distributed around 400 flags in total, making the traditional town of around 4,200 residents explode with color.
„I felt very proud that the town responded like it did,“ he told CNN. „It’s a fabulous town.“
The supreme court ruling was linked to the case of a separatist flag hung outside a town hall in the Canary Islands, but it has complicated the celebration of Pride month throughout Spain.
In some areas, such as Cadiz and Guadalajara, local authorities hung Pride flags in defiance of the ban.
Since the first official marches, which took place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in June 1970, Pride has become a global movement. Last year, at least 150 official Pride festivals and events took place around the world.