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UPDATE: Mayor still wants rainbow flag at City Hall pulled down

Rob Ford repeated stance as he left work Friday

Rob Ford says he still plans to push to have a rainbow flag removed from a pole over Toronto City Hall.

The flag,  a long-standing symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and pride, was raised Friday in a sign of solidarity as the Winter Games in Sochi began, but Rob Ford said he wanted it taken down.

"This is about the Olympics. This is about being patriotic to your country. This is not about someone's sexual preference," he said.

When told the gesture was meant to protest anti-gay laws in Russia, Ford replied "Let Russia do what they want. We're Canadians here."

The flag was put up on a "courtesy" flag pole which otherwise flies the City of Toronto flag. Multiple flag poles around city hall fly the Canadian flag and the city flags at all times.

A city spokeswoman said the mayor didn't officially order the rainbow flag to come down, but did ask how it came to be raised.

"The mayor did ask to seek clarity on how this rainbow flag could be flown at city hall," said Jackie DeSouza, explaining that a non-profit group had asked to have the rainbow flag flown for the duration of the Sochi Games.

DeSouza said the group's request met the requirements of the city's flag flying policy, which was highlighted for the mayor.

"Given that city council approved this policy it would have to be up to council as a whole to change the policy," she said when asked if the mayor could order the flag to come down.

As he left City Hall for weekend, Ford told reports he still opposed the flag being flown and was working on a way to have it taken down.

The flag flap drew some LGBT activists to the mayor's office to protest his comments.

"That he actually would go out of his way to remove a flag which is a symbolic gesture in support of those very basic human rights is probably more upsetting to me than anything he's done around here," Suzy Richter said after a conversation with the mayor.

Toronto was one of several Canadian cities, including Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton, to fly the rainbow flag on Friday.

In Vancouver, the flag went up at the request of Mayor Gregor Robertson, and coincided with a decision to send an openly gay councillor to Sochi to lobby for the International Olympic Committee to make Pride Houses mandatory at future Games.

In Montreal, Mayor Denis Coderre said his city protested Russia's anti-gay laws.

"Over the past months we have observed several gestures of repression toward the LGBT community in Russia," Coderre, a former federal sports minister, said as the rainbow flag was raised.

"This gesture is a symbol of fraternity and solidarity toward the LGBT community of Montreal and around the world...Today, we are all Russian for all those people who are suffering right now."

Ford, who lost most of his mayoral powers late last year after admitting he'd smoked crack cocaine while in office, has previously come under fire for his staunch refusal to attend Toronto's gay pride parade that marches through the downtown core each summer.

In the past, he said his refusal to attend was due to a family tradition of spending the Canada Day long weekend at the cottage.

But when asked Wednesday if he was planning to attend this year's World Pride parade, Ford said "I've never been to a pride parade. So I'm not going to change the way I am."

The mayor's remarks prompted criticism from the public and at least one fellow city councillor, who accused him of "thinly veiled homophobia."

The mayor's councillor brother, Doug Ford, denied that either he or his brother are homophobic. He said he felt uncomfortable bringing his kids to an event where "middle-aged men with pot bellies" ran down the street "buck naked."

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  • 26
  1. didino posted on 02/07/2014 03:31 PM
    Flag should be taken down asap, and whoever put it up without approval, should be fired!
  2. Angry Bill posted on 02/07/2014 03:52 PM
    They should be flying the Jolly Roger over city hall.
    1. Karl Burgin posted on 02/07/2014 04:29 PM
      @Angry Bill Well that's weird- don't you think.
      A pirate ship with two captains. At least council plays the part by being the mutinous crew.
    2. dominic posted on 02/10/2014 10:25 AM
      @Angry Bill you mean like in bum pirates kind a flag?!
  3. Alex posted on 02/07/2014 05:34 PM
    Would it help is they hoisted a Crack Cocaine flag right beside the other one?
  4. Brandon H posted on 02/07/2014 05:52 PM
    I love how any article about LGBT brings out the dregs of society hurling slurs left and right. Get used to the fact that in Canada we actually respect the rights of LGBT people. If you don't like that, I hear countries in the Middle East have the same views as you.
    1. Mark7 posted on 02/07/2014 06:07 PM
      @Brandon H What about the rights of heterosexuals? We were completely disrespected and insulted when "these people" call their evil unions a marriage. Spare us your useless rhetoric.
  5. Starchild posted on 02/08/2014 12:31 AM
    Rob Ford is right and these LGBT activist should stop this mass hysteria about their rights and pride. First of all they should start respecting the fact that other contries have different laws and it is not up to the Canadian LGBT to decide what will be in Russia. Besides, it would be time to comprehend(if that's ever possible) that Russians are not againts them, they just prohibite by law to promote homosexuality to minors. On the otherhand what kind of freedom and democracy we have here when the education system here promotes the homosexuality for kids(againts their will) and schoolboards don't even bother to tell that to parents?
    It is getting quite discusting from 1010 that they spend half a day to day-everyday with antiFord propaganda and the homopro propaganda like there is nothing else to talk about. Well this proves perfectly from where the wind blows and before anybody tries to tag me that I'm homofob then I got news for ya, I'm not afraid from them therefore I can't have a fobia.
    1. Brandon H posted on 02/08/2014 11:04 AM
      @Starchild The very fact that you don't understand the problem with Russia's laws and how they don't charge or seek out justice when gay people are beaten, tortured, or killed, or the fact that you think that homosexuality is promoted onto kids against their will in the education system, or that calling for equal rights and equal treatment is nothing but propaganda, proves to me that you are nothing more than ignorant to the world around you, or a flat out bigot.
  6. Mark posted on 02/08/2014 03:22 AM
    Why should we be proud of s biological disorder????
  7. john posted on 02/08/2014 12:03 PM
    look i could care less about who is gay . u dont have to rub it in peoples faces . i have no interest in being gay what so ever and i never will . people have the right to live the way thay whant thats why we fight in ww2 for . 70 years ago .


    now for Russia u guys are wasting your time . Russia is all orthodox catholic thay dont want gays in there place . simple as that . quit going to another country and try to change there laws . that is un Canadian . the day russia will let in gays would be the day the leafs win the cup . and hell freezes over on the same day . u guys pull this crap in the medal east u guys would get hanged .
  8. Bev posted on 02/08/2014 12:23 PM
    And yet John, we never thought the Berlin wall would come down either!
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