Friday, May 16, 2014
Rob Ford denounced at Toronto City Hall Pride flag ceremony
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly and almost a dozen councillors helped Toronto PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) raise the rainbow flag on the roof of City Hall for Saturday’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
The annual event is often plagued by drama around Ford’s attendance — he missed the event the first year of his term but did make a surprise appearance there in 2012 and returned last year on the first day of his crack video scandal.
Ford — who has refused to march in Toronto’s Pride parade — has been caught on tape making homophobic remarks and made headlines earlier this year when he objected to the Pride flag being raised at City Hall to draw attention to gay rights during the Sochi Olympics.
PFLAG president Irene Miller delivered a fiery speech decrying Ford’s stance against the flag and comments he has made.
“During Sochi in February this year while cities around the world and across Canada including at our legislature were flying the rainbow flag, Mayor Ford was repeatedly demanding it be taken down,” Miller said. “The flag is more than a piece of fabric, it really truly means something to all who recognize the struggles that go together in those colours to make it a symbol of hope, support, love, acceptance. It is more than just a piece of cloth and should never, never be disrespected in such a horrible way.”
Miller went on to argue homophobia cannot not be allowed to spread.
“If we permit it, we promote it and we will not, can not let that happen,” she said. “There are still bigots, there are still those who hate, there are still those who throw out racial slurs, cultural epithets … and that has to stop.”
Miller, who is stepping down as president this year, said she wanted to comment on Ford’s actions because she’s been “disappointed” in the revelations.
“With recently hearing about comments made against or towards Councillor (Karen) Stintz, I thought that was inexcusable and I think we all should feel insulted by that,” Miller said. “I felt it warranted being addressed.”
She pointed out Ford has never apologized for his homophobic comments.
“A full and frank honest apology would go a long way,” Miller said.
Councillor Janet Davis said the flag raising was “symbolic of the transition that’s occurred at City Hall.
“Today we are unambiguously celebrating that the city is an inclusive and welcoming one that is willing to stand, raise the Pride flag without question and declare to the world that we stand firm against transphobia and homophobia,” Davis said. “With Rob Ford gone, that pall that he cast over this event is gone.”
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