A handful of people have already complained that the city is flying the rainbow flag from its top municipal building, but the mayor says he doesn’t regret it.
The city is flying the flag in light of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, where Russia’s anti-gay rights stance has come into focus. On Monday morning, Hamilton joined other cities in flying the flag.
The flag went up at 9 a.m. Within an hour, the mayor’s office received a handful of disapproving calls, Mayor Bob Bratina said.
But he’s not worried about it, he said. The positive calls have outweighed the negative ones.
“I’ll review with security whatever emails come into the mayor’s office and what the level of anger may be,” he said.
Flying the rainbow flag caused a flap in Toronto, where embattled mayor Rob Ford demanded the rainbow banner come down from the city’s flag pole.
“This is about Olympics,” he said.
“This is about being patriotic to your country. This is not about someone’s sexual preference.”
The mayor also put a Canadian flag in his office window in protest.
Bratina has no such concerns. The Winter Olympic Games are a chance to highlight a human rights issue, he said.
“It’s a good opportunity to bring forward the issues in a broad context, not simply being angry at the Russians for what they’ve done lately,” he said.
“It’s a good opportunity for the City of Hamilton to show where we stand as a city in terms of equality for everyone.”
Deirdre Pike, a social planner with Hamilton’s Social Planning and Research Council, met with the mayor at 9 a.m. for the flag raising. It was approved on Friday but ice prevented it from being installed.
Pike has heard complaints too, particularly about whether the rainbow flag is taking the place of the Canadian flag. It’s not, she said.
“Of course not,” she said. “Of course city hall is going to follow protocol and keep the Canadian flag the highest flag possible.”