Over 5000 sign petition to support gay Melbourne couple in flag row


An elderly couple in Melbourne have received a torrent of support after they were ordered to cease flying the rainbow flag from their balcony this week.

Residents James Bellia (72) and Murray Sheldrick (78) were served a notice by the Melbourne Inner City Management Property Owners Corporation to remove the flag, threatening legal action should the couple not comply.

Activists and lawyers have rallied to James and Murray’s side with thousands signing a petition started by Pauline Pantsdown – known for parodying One Nation leader Pauline Hanson – admonishing the building’s owners for bullying the pair. Lawyers from Melbourne’s Human Rights Law Centre have also offered their service to defend the couple, free of charge.

“We are positive it is homophobia,” Mr Bellia told The Age, “Why else would they bother us? The flag is on a huge terrace, it’s not in anyone’s view.”

The offending letter accuses the couple of disturbing the “peaceful enjoyment” of other tenants, citing they had breached the rules for displaying “advertising material”.

“This enforcement action is not only harsh but could be subject to legal challenge if it goes beyond what is permitted by the body corporate rules or those rules have been applied in a discriminatory way,” Anna Brown of Human Rights Law Centre told The Age, “For example if only the pride flag has been singled out.”

The Change.org petition to support Murray and James’ flag currently has over 5,800 supporters.

OIP Staff

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