Gary Powell is a former councillor in Buckinghamshire.

Cllr Martin Tett, the Leader of Conservative Buckinghamshire Council, authorised the hoisting of the standard rainbow Pride flag at the authority’s offices on Global Pride Day, June 27th, in line with the Council’s policy on inclusivity. However, the flag that was instead raised, with its superimposed triangular design celebrating inter alia hard-line transgender ideology, was the “Progress Pride Flag”. This design emerged in 2018 and, whatever its original intention, has come to be associated with the militant extreme gender movement. Its ideology champions a version of identity politics that is particularly harmful to lesbian and gay people, to women’s sex-based rights, and to child safeguarding: topics about which I have written previously in these pages.

As a gay man, a conservative, and someone who has campaigned over four decades for fairer treatment and greater acceptance of lesbian and gay people, it is with considerable dismay and horrified incredulity that I have observed the emergence of a new extremist LGBTQ+ movement over the past ten years: one now in full colonisation and cancel-culture mode. This new movement insists aggressively that there is an untestable but objectively real entity called “gender” that is more important than biological sex, and that anyone should be allowed to declare his or her “gender” on the basis of self-identification alone, conferring all the legal and social rights and protections of the biological sex with which that “gender” is deemed to correspond. Where this unscientific insanity is allowed to prevail, it puts men and boys in women’s and girls’ protected environments and categories, and it gives any predatory non-trans-identified man the legally-protected opportunity to pretend he identifies as transgender so he can freely access those spaces with ulterior motives.

LGBTQ+ ideology also promotes the redefinition of homosexuality as “same-gender attraction” rather than “same-sex attraction”, leading in particular to biological men with penises invading lesbian dating sites while claiming to be lesbians, and same-sex oriented people being called “transphobes” and “bigots” when we insist we are only attracted to people of our own sex, not to people of the opposite sex who identify as our “gender”. This attempt to redefine our sexual orientation out of existence is, of course, the very opposite of “gay rights”.

The modern LGBTQ+ lobby also insists, in this social pandemic of real or designer gender dysphoria and transgender identification, that children can give informed consent to puberty-blockers: drugs that almost always lead to cross-sex hormones and that are a passport to sterilisation, lifetime medical patient status, sexual stimulation impairment, and possibly also to drastic surgical procedures. No gay rights activist should ever campaign for measures that are misogynistic, homophobic, and contemptuous of basic child safeguarding. Yet across the West, a sea of LGBTQ+ activists refuse to recognise the serious harm they are causing, and to desist from it. It is staggering that President Biden and his administration rank among the worst gender fanatic poseurs on the planet: an indicator of how serious and widespread the problem is.

As a recently-retired Member of Buckinghamshire Council, it was a cause of considerable surprise and consternation for me to see the Council’s tweet championing that flag, together with the words:

Flying the flag yesterday for #GlobalPrideDay! Showing our support for our LGBTQ+ staff, communities and residents in Bucks. #PrideMonth #LoveWins”

A new flag outside a government building can, of course, be a signal of colonisation, so I wondered whether the ideological capture of the increasingly woke Conservative Party hierarchy by extreme gender ideology had made new inroads. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s recent Pride Reception at 10 Downing Street was one to which Stonewall were pointedly invited, according to Lord Herbert – the Government’s first special envoy on LGBT rights. As many readers will already know, Stonewall is the notorious extreme gender ideology outfit that is regularly slated in quality newspapers. At the same time, the maligned and misrepresented LGB Alliance – the only UK charity dedicated to campaigning for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) rights while opposing gender extremism – were left off the Pride Reception guest list by the Prime Minister. Proof, if any were needed, that the Government had simply thrown an unreconstructed rainbow genderfest.

Our Conservative Prime Minister is causing immense harm by feting Stonewall: and this, in the face of all the excoriating media publicity and objections to taxpayers’ money being wasted on an organisation that many lesbian and gay people from across the political spectrum are now demanding should be defunded and ostracised.

Even though Lord Herbert has stated there are areas of disagreement, such as on gender self-identification, between the Government and Stonewall, the Stonewall that he claimed “has done brilliant work over the years to promote equality” is the Stonewall of yesteryear: not today. Now, its obsession is to promote extreme gender ideology: so why are the Government and Lord Herbert empowering a rancid organisation that is well past its use-by date and set to cause increasing sickness in the society where its toxic product is consumed – or rather, force-fed? Who on Earth is advising the Prime Minister to behave like a woke apparatchik?

However, amidst all this gloom, at least there was reassuring news concerning the Progress Pride Flag outside Buckinghamshire Council’s offices. Cllr Tett explained to me that he had definitely not agreed to the hoisting of this more controversial version of the Pride flag, that he had taken up the matter with his Comms team, and that he did not intend for this particular flag to be flown again.

So Buckinghamshire has not fallen. Indeed, unlike Conservative Surrey County Council, Buckinghamshire Council is not wasting taxpayers’ money on Stonewall’s much-criticised Diversity Champions scheme, either – which I compare to the selling of indulgences under Pope Leo X. Other Conservative administrations across the country might care to watch out for what flag is raised on Global Pride Days. The LGBTQ+ lobby has been very successful at insinuating its ideology by stealth, under the radar; and watchful eyes are needed in local authorities and everywhere else.

While central Government and Lord Herbert entertain and flatter Stonewall, they are failing to provide our nation with what we desperately need: unequivocal, wise, and courageous leadership, together with action to protect the basic civil rights and liberties of vulnerable groups in the face of an extreme identity politics onslaught. A Government’s first priority should be to protect its citizens from harm.

Many left-wing people – particularly women – are now even declaring their intention to vote Conservative because of this specific crucial issue, on which the other main parties have sold out completely. If the Government continues with its shifty and pusillanimous appeasement of Stonewall, however, these leased-out votes will be retracted. Furthermore, the years leading up to Brexit should surely have taught the Conservative hierarchy a stark lesson in what happens when they abandon their grassroots supporters. The Conservative Party now risks haemorrhaging votes from grassroots conservatives who abhor spineless creeping capitulation to an extreme gender politics Zeitgeist that is ideologically rooted in the hard left.

We surely did not leave the European Union in order to become Gender Woo-Woo Island; nor for our sovereign Conservative Government to be stuck in timorous thrall to neo-Marxist identity politics.