"We might well rip it off your chest" Suffolk veteran's anger at rainbow poppy for LGBT community
PUBLISHED: 13:36 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:54 07 November 2019
A Suffolk war hero is at the centre of a social media storm over his remarks about the appropriateness of a rainbow poppy commemorating gay service personnel.
Trevor Coult served in the Royal Irish Regiment for 20 years and in 2005 received the Military Cross, the third highest military honour, for fighting off insurgents in Baghdad.
Like many, he came home from his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq suffering with PTSD and has been campaigning since.
On Tuesday November 5 Mr Coult expressed anger on Twitter at how some organisations were selling poppies that were not the Royal British Legion red, but instead were rainbow to represent the LGBT community.
He tweeted: "If your gay, bi, trans or whatever, I don't care.
"You have a pride month to celebrate who you are.
"Please don't take over the one day a year where I get to remember my friends and all those that died for this country.
"Leave the poppy alone and have some respect."
The social media post went viral and has currently been shared over 5,000 times, with many responses agreeing with Mr Coult but some reacting with anger.
"My issue is not with the LGBT community but you can't take the poppy and make it about you," he said.
"They haven't carried the bodies of friends off the battlefield.
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"Don't change it because it stands for all veterans across all wars, many of which were gay but they understand the red poppy represents them too."
Mr Coult has campaigned for years to create awareness of the suffering many veterans face when returning home and worries the rainbow poppies will evoke a strong reaction from some.
He said: "I suffer as a lot of veterans do, so don't be surprised if we see you and rip the rainbow poppy off your chest.
"To us it's like a knife in the back and we would never hurt you, but we might well rip it off you.
"Whether you're gay, Muslim, Hindu, whatever race religion or sexuality your blood is red when you bleed on that battle field."
It is reported that the rainbow poppy which first sparked the controversy was being sold on eBay until the seller stopped due to angry responses.