Advocacy group unhappy with Kitchener’s indoor rainbow flag
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014 4:38PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 12, 2014 6:37PM EST
A rainbow flag is flying outside Queen’s Park.
Another one stands next to the municipal, provincial and federal flags outside Guelph City Hall.
Yet another has been raised at Toronto City Hall – even if Mayor Rob Ford isn’t happy about it.
Across the province, rainbow flags are flying at public buildings in a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community and protest against the Russian government, which has welcomed the world for the Olympics despite recently passing a new set of anti-gay laws.
But in Kitchener, requests to follow suit were met with a response that the head of a local LGBTQ advocacy group says he can’t support.
“What kind of support for social justice are we really showing … if the flag is out of view?” tri-Pride president Sasa Kahrimanovic tells CTV News.
A rainbow flag has been raised at Kitchener City Hall – but rather than being outside the building with Kitchener, Ontario and Canadian flags, it’s inside, on a solitary pole in the building’s rotunda.
Mayor Carl Zehr says the high-traffic indoor location was chosen because of a city policy preventing them from displaying other flags outdoors.
“The policy is that we do not do any of those. If we choose … to not take one and do some others, then we could very well be charged with discrimination,” he says.
Zehr says the city wanted to show support to the LGBTQ community during the Olympics.
“We were still able to make that statement and not prejudice the flagpole policy.”
Kahrimanovic says he understands the city’s policy, but thinks an exception can be made for the rainbow flag.
“Can they not find a way to fly it somehow outside?” he says, adding that he’s happy with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision not to attend the Olympics out of protest.
“I am kind of disappointed that at a municipal level, we don’t have that kind of political will,” he says.
In Waterloo, the city is being provided with a flag by tri-Pride.
It too will be hung indoors – in the City Hall atrium – for the duration of the Olympics.