Council mulls official ‘gay quarter’ for Leeds

The gay quarter would be centred on Lower Briggate and The Calls of Leeds
The gay quarter would be centred on Lower Briggate and The Calls of Leeds
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A PROPOSAL for a historic area in a Yorkshire city to be officially designated its gay quarter is to be examined by a council-led working group.

The quarter would be centred on Lower Briggate and The Calls of Leeds, 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 last year.

Now a working group lead by the council’s city centre management team and involving key partners and representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community is to be established to look into the gay quarter plan.

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

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

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

The gay quarter plan is among several 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 concerns.

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 to be discussed by the council’s executive board next week says it has been estimated about 10 per cent of the city’s population would identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

It adds: “Respecting difference and embracing diversity isn’t just the right thing to do it also has economic benefits.”

Councillor Stewart Golton, Liberal Democrat group leader who tabled the resolution in March, said: “There is a lot we need to improve upon quickly including the regeneration Lower Briggate where most of the gay businesses are.”