The same day the Pride flag was raised at City Hall to support LGBTQ rights during the Olympics, Mayor Rob Ford is calling for its removal.
“This is about [the] Olympics. This is about being [patriotic], this is not about someone’s sexual preference,” he told reporters Friday.
Ford left his office and walked through a crowd of reporters before answering questions from the elevator.
“No I do not agree with putting up the rainbow flag. We should put our Canadian flag up,” he said as the elevator doors closed.
The flag was still flying at city hall as of 1:20 p.m. on Friday.
Ford refused to stop and speak to reporters. At one point, security guards attempted to stop cameramen and other media from following Ford, physically blocking their path. Ford later said he has asked the city manager if the flag could be removed.
“I’ve put a call in to Joe Pennachetti and asked him to remove it.”
After he was told the flag was raised due to the widely criticized crackdown on so-called gay propaganda in Russia, Ford shrugged it off.
“Russia can do what they want. We’re Canadians here,” he said.
He then ordered lunch.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly attended the flag-raising and said there was nothing “un-Canadian” about flying the Pride flag.
“There’s no antagonism between the two flags,” Kelly said.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said that if city hall were to fly a flag, it should be the Canadian flag or the Olympic flag.
“It should be about sport and about Canadians,” he told reporters.
Ford and his brother Doug Ford have been critical of Pride events in recent days, with Rob Ford saying he would not attend the Pride Parade as he’s “not going to change the way I am.” Doug Ford said the event was not suitable for families as it is filled with “buck-naked men.”
“This issue has grown beyond any one off-handed naïve or willful homophobic or transphobic remark,” the 519 Church Street Community Centre said Friday.
The group, who is mandated to promote civic engagement, was responding to Rob Ford’s comments about the parade and his request to have the flag removed.
“The comments come at a time when Toronto is preparing to welcome the world for World Pride 2014; when the Olympics are hosted in a country that has banned ‘homosexual propaganda;’ and when the voters will decide who will lead City Council for the next four years.
“The 519 strongly believes that homophobia and transphobia whether direct or inferred, have no place in political discourse and should never be used as a tactic to secure electoral votes.”