Amid Rob Ford flag flap, Bratina opts to fly rainbow banner

Hamilton city hall will fly the rainbow flag, an international symbol of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual rights, during the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

Hamilton joins major Canadian cities in expressing support for LGBT Russians

Hamilton city hall will wave the LGBT pride flag during the Sochi Olympics. (Mktp/Flickr)


  • Flag-raising at city hall won't occur until at least Monday, staff say, citing "ice issues" on roof

A cold, bleak February is about to get a bit more colourful at Hamilton city hall.

Following the lead of major Canadian municipalities such as Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver, the city will fly the rainbow flag during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games to show support for lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGBT) people in Russia.

Mayor Bob Bratina asked for the rainbow flag, an international symbol of LGBT rights, to be raised at the urging of members of the public, his assistant Peggy Chapman said in an email.

In 2013, the Russian government passed a law making it illegal to distribute "propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations" to minors, under threat of steep fines.

The legislation has led to a major crackdowns against groups who advocate for gay rights and has sparked fears about how non-heterosexual athletes will be treated during February’s Olympic Games.

The flag-raising at Hamilton's city hall won't occur until at least Monday, city staff said in a statement. 

"Due to some serious ice issues on the roof, it is not safe right now to put up the flag."

Rob Ford flag flap

Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford provoked a new controversy on Thursday when he demanded that rainbow banner be taken down from a flagpole at the Ontario capital’s city hall.

"This is about Olympics," said Ford, who has refused on multiple occasions to attend Toronto gay pride festivities. 

"This is about being patriotic to your country. This is not about someone's sexual preference."

Shortly after Ford made the comments, Coun. Anthony Perruzza went into the mayor's office to speak to him about the rainbow flag.

"I think we can fly both," said Perruzza. "There's an important principle at play here. We are an inclusive country."

Perruzza said he convinced Ford to let both the Canadian and the rainbow flag fly on separate poles outside city hall.

In protest, Ford placed a Canadian flag in his office window.