The rebranding has been blasted as insensitive and “deeply disrespectful”.

A transport company in Plymouth, Devon, decided to show its support for NHS key workers and their vital role during the Coronavirus pandemic, however, the results spectacularly backfired on social media after it published a picture of a “re-branded” pride bus, featuring the LGBT+ flag.

Plymouth Citybus decided that it would “re-brand” its Pride bus to an “NHS” bus leading to accusations that the current usage of the rainbow was an appropriation of an LGBT+ icon – the rainbow flag.


Unfortunately, the rebranding also happened to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi and Transphobia.

During the pandemic, many have been using the rainbow symbol as a sign of hope and acknowledgement of the tireless work of key workers during the lockdown. However, there is a difference between rainbow designs.

The most famous and widely used version of the pride flag has six stripes, while other rainbow symbols have seven or eight stripes to them.

Worldwide Symbol for the LGBT+ Community

rihaij / Pixabay

The rainbow flag has been a world-wide symbol for LGBT+ rights since the late 70s when designer and artist Gilbert Baker unveiled the rainbow as a symbol of hope for LGBT+ people.

Speaking of the flag’s importance, before he died, Baker said that before the rainbow the only symbol given to gay people was the Nazi’s pink triangle, he said, “no other international symbol for [the LGBT+ community] than the pink triangle which the Nazis used to identify homosexuals in concentration camps,

“Even though the pink triangle was and still is a very powerful symbol, it was very much forced upon us”.

Acusations of “deleting pride and appropriation”


The bus company was accused of “deleting pride” and using the bus for a “branding opportunity”. One user caused the company of “Rainbow capitalism and appropriation”.

LGBT+ advocate Tom Hayes said, “I understand what you were trying to do, but this is a pretty insensitive way of doing it. And on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia too?

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“LGBTQ+ aren’t just a failed marketing campaign you repurpose. This is deeply disrespectful.”


Speaking to a spokesperson for the Plymouth Citybus said, “The pride bus in Plymouth has been borrowed to show support to the NHS and fellow key workers. It is a temporary measure.We are working with Pride in Plymouth for a new 2020 Pride bus, to show our continued support. Plymouth Citybus is an inclusive company and represents the community it serves”/

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