Rainbow flag raised at Calgary's City Hall in support of gay rights

Calgary raised a rainbow flag at City Hall today to protest Russia's anti-gay policies as the Sochi Olympics opened.

Gesture comes as Sochi Olympics kick off with opening ceremony

The rainbow flag raised at Calgary City Hall today to protest Russia's anti-gay policies will remain up for the duration of the Sochi Olympics.

According to the mayor's office communication advisor, Daorcey Le Bray, Mayor Naheed Nenshi asked that the flag be raised immediately and for the duration of the Games.

It's not clear at this point whether the flag will remain up for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Calgary joins several other Canadian cities to fly the flag, including Halifax, Quebec City and Toronto.

Edmonton also raised the flag on Friday after a social media campaign urged the city to send a message of solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia.

The flag was also raised at the Alberta legislature building on Friday.

Le Bray tweeted the news that Calgary would fly the flag Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, Coun. Druh Farrell tweeted the flag would fly but it's not clear yet who approved the decision.

On Thursday, Le Bray had said that neither Mayor Nenshi nor council could make such a request and that someone would need to submit an application.

"It would have to come for the community," wrote the mayor's communication adviser Daorcey Le Bray on Thursday in an email.

No requests to fly the rainbow flag had been submitted as of Thursday afternoon, but GayCalgary Magazine tweeted Friday it had applied to have the flag flown.

Raising the flag

The effort comes after several other cities, such as Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal, announced Thursday they would raise the flag.

In Toronto, the city's scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford made headlines after he said he did not support having the rainbow flag flown at City Hall during the Sochi Games and ordered it taken down.

"This is about Olympics," Ford told reporters. "This is about being patriotic to your country, this is not about someone's sexual preference."

Since his initial attempt to have the flag removed, Ford has reportedly agreed to let the flag fly.

Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he supports keeping the rainbow flag up because it sends a message to Russia, which has come under fire for its anti-gay laws.

Kelly said he hoped Ford would "reconsider his position" and that the mayor should "keep the bigger picture in mind."