The rainbow flag – international symbol of the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community – was raised at the Minden Hills township this week.
Township councillors received a request from resident and business owner Sinclair Russell during their June 20 meeting.
“In view of recent hateful incidents both at home at a business in our own county and more seriously at a nightclub in the U.S. we would like to suggest that Minden Hills show positive solidarity against discrimination and violence toward LGBT people” Russell wrote in a letter to council. “As a township we must show support of and celebrate the diversity of every resident and visitor. This year more than ever this statement is necessary around the world including our own county. Minden and Haliburton County is home to strong LGBT community that includes hundreds of tax-paying citizens business owners public figures and seniors.
“Members of town council are also invited to make a declaration of a Pride Day (weekend) in Minden.
On June 21 the Prettypaws Pet Boutique and Spa in Haliburton was vandalized with a homophobic slur written on the building in spray paint.
On June 12 50 people were massacred by a gunman at a gay club in Orlando Fla.
On July 3 the Prime Minister and Premier marched in the Toronto Pride parade and Russell’s request was that the rainbow flag be raised at the township office. A Pride picnic took place in Minden July 2.
Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin supported flying the flag.
“This hits near and dear to what we think and how we view the world” said Devolin adding he doesn’t condone discrimination prejudice or the violent acts that have been taking place against the LGBT community throughout the world. “I think from time to time we need to make a statement. I would be prepared to endorse such a move.”
On the request for the township to declare a Pride day or Pride week “proclamations are in violation of our procedural bylaw” the reeve said noting the township’s rules forbade council from making such proclamations.
“That’s something that we need to reconsider” said Councillor Pam Sayne. “What is here before us is really a political request. This is a matter of inclusion. The most important thing about this is peace.”
Councillor Jeanne Anthon said flying the flag spoke to the inclusiveness of community.
“I expect all of us here would use the flag-flying to represent inclusiveness” Anthon said. “It would be a very broad understanding of what it represents.”
The township does have a protocol governing flag-flying requests and council decided that the tight timeline considered the flag would be raised outside the township office for the week beginning July 4.
Sayne noted that June is Pride month and that in the future if the request is received earlier the flag could be flown earlier in the season.