No gold at the end of rainbow debate

Kitchener councillors won’t win any medals for their handling of the rainbow flag issue.

Not only did they refuse to back my motion to fly the flag outside city hall in support of our gay athletes in Russia, they also voted to prevent discussion of that resolution. Eight council votes (two thirds) were required to have the issue debated and only four councillors voted in favour of waiving notice of motion.

By refusing to make an exception to Kitchener’s city-hall, flag-fluttering protocol, a majority of councillors ignored a chance to make a symbolic and very public demonstration of solidarity with Olympic athletes on one of our eight flagpoles. They also threw away the chance to protest Russian laws that blatantly discriminate against gay and LGBTQ communities.

Instead, council supported a move to have the local Tri-Pride group organize a display inside city hall in the Rotunda during the Olympics. This means  we will timidly tuck the issue out of sight while cities including Guelph, Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa fly the rainbow flag.

And while I support the educational value of such a display, it does little to make a strong, visible statement of solidarity with gay athletes.

Instead of doing the right thing, council avoided an awkward issue by hiding behind our outdated flag protocol.

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3 Responses to No gold at the end of rainbow debate

  1. bourbonbakerMelissa says:

    Thank you Frank. The city needs more of you.

    I am very disappointed in councillors who are willing to spend time talking about how to waste our money (on statues) and casinos but aren’t willing to take some time to talk about some of the very people who will be coming out to vote in the next election. If you can’t fly a flag to make a small statement and recognize LGTBQ athletes in Sochi, how can you possibly be an effective councillor for the needs of a gay constituent?

  2. @sandyincanada says:

    Frank, I appreciate your efforts to bring the flag issue forward. Fine cities from St. John’s NL to Vancouver BC have flown the pride flag without hesitation, and I suspect they all have flag policies that they had to work with, or possibly around. They made it happen, and we should do no less. Our city needs to consider the message it sends when it says “no” to this opportunity. It is not too late to do the right thing. Please let it fly!

  3. Melissa makes a good point, and the message is clear. In the eyes of eight councillors, it’s not worth talking about. I disagree, and I appreciate your motion. With the IOC marching blissfully forward, Russia is perfectly happy for other governments to remain silent. This is the time for the people of the world to clearly put the human rights message forward, in solidarity with the LGBTQ people of Russia, and others persecuted along with them, that Human Rights are not negotiable. And that should be discussed in Council, whether we fly the flag or not.

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