News :: International

Canadian Cities Show LGBT Support During Winter Olympics

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Feb 7, 2014
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Vancouver, Montreal and a number of other Canadian cities announced plans to fly the rainbow flag during the Sochi Winter Olympics in order to show support for Russia’s LGBT community, Canadian newspaper the Star reports.

Officials from the Quebec government plan to erect a gay pride flag at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, which was built for the 1976 summer games.

"I’m confirming that the mast of the Olympic Stadium will be illuminated in rainbow colours (Friday) night in solidarity with the LGBT community," Quebec Tourism Minister Pascal Bérubé tweeted Thursday.

Some major Canadian cities will not be part of the protest, however. Calgary, which hosted the Winter Games in 1988, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Toronto do not have any plans to show any LGBT support during the Olympics. The Star notes that 3,000 people signed an online petition to light up Toronto’s famed CN Tower, the tallest structure in North America, with rainbow colors.

Vancouver, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010, will fly the pride flag Friday in front of city hall for the duration of the games. Officials from St. John’s were first to allow the raise of the pride flag and will also erect it on Friday until the sporting event ends. Montreal will follow suit and raise its rainbow flag in front of city hall.

"As an Olympic city, and as a large, inclusive metropolis, Montreal is concerned about the rights of members of the LGBT community around the world. This gesture is a symbol of the fraternity and solidarity of Montrealers," Dennis Coderre, Montreal’s mayor, said in a statement Thursday.

When Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson heard Montreal was raising a gay pride flag to show LGBT support for Russia, he immediately ordered Ottawa’s gay pride flag over city hall as well.

"It will fly until the end of the Winter Olympics," a city spokesman told the Star.

Several athletes have been vocal about their concerns over holding the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, due to the country’s highly controversial "homosexual propaganda" laws. Canadian athletes, including Calgary short-track speed skater Anastasia Bucsis and Vancouver slalom skier Mike Janyk, joined the Athlete Ally organization as Olympic ambassadors in order to promote the Principle 6 campaign, named after the principle of the Olympic charter, which reads: "any form of discrimination...is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

A total of 52 athletes have signed the measure to urge Russia to repeal that anti-gay law.

This article is part of "Sochi-ology," an EDGE special report series chronicling the social and political events surrounding Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.  Visit the full list of Sochi-ology stories here.

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