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Instead of doing the right thing, council avoided an awkward issue by hiding behind our outdated flag protocol.