Gay quarter plan takes step forward as group is formed

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A PROPOSAL for a historic area of Leeds to be officially designated the city’s official gay quarter is to be examined by a council-led working group.

The quarter would be centred on Lower Briggate and The Calls, which a council report says is already unofficially known as a “gay area.”

The council has already held initial discussions about the idea with the City Centre Partnership Board and some businesses in the area. A fact-finding visit took place to Liverpool to learn from similar work undertaken there in 2011.

Now a working group led by the council’s city centre management team and involving key partners and representatives of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT) community is to be established to look into the gay quarter plan.

It will consider any cost implications, consultation, branding and identity, street signs, design and community safety issues.

The move follows a resolution agreed by a meeting of the full council earlier this year that Leeds should aim to be a LGBT friendly.

It said recognising the LGBT community’s contribution to Leeds’ success would encourage further investment, create jobs and create a tolerant and safe environment for all.

The gay quarter plan is among a number of proposals to be investigated further.

Talks are to be held to consider how the council can further support the Leeds Pride event, now in its seventh year and which the organisers estimate attracts 23,000 people to the city and contributes £1.5m to the local economy.

Discussions between council officers and Leeds Pride Steering group will cover sponsorship, funding applications, help with traffic regulation orders and other issues.

The idea of opening a LGBT resource centre, where people could socialise, hold meetings and pick up information about services is to be looked into by a steering group including voluntary sector representatives and health providers.

A report going to the council’s executive board next week says: “Respecting difference and embracing diversity isn’t just the right thing to do it also has economic benefits.”

MP Rachel Reeves.

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