Ontario town bans Pride flags on property and people are furious
A rural southwestern Ontario community has voted to exclude Pride flags and all other non-civic flags from being permitted to fly on municipal properties and streetlight poles, and some local residents are furious.
The new bylaw approved in Norwich, Ont. will only allow flags representing the municipal, provincial, and federal governments to fly on township property, or banners related to the promotion of downtown businesses or downtown beautification.
The original bylaw was proposed by Coun. John Scholten at a Tuesday night council meeting and specifically targeted Pride and Progress banners.
"Whether flown together or apart, these [government] flags are all we need to represent the diverse and multicultural citizenship in Norwich Township," Scholten said. "By flying these flags alone on township property, we can coexist in peace and harmony no matter who we are or what we believe."
#BREAKING: Tonight, the Township of Norwich voted against allowing Pride Flags to fly on municipal lands and they voted against proclaiming June as Pride Month. These two motions are homophobic, transphobic, biphobic and are genuinely unCanadian. #OxfordCounty #ONpoli #CDNpoli pic.twitter.com/KbzMe3gDjg— Jordan Kent 🇨🇦🌈 (@votejkent) April 26, 2023
However, an amendment to the bylaw excluded any specific reference to Pride and Progress banners, and instead focused on any flags that didn't meet the criteria.
The bylaw drew crowds of supporters and opposing 2SLGBTQI+ advocates who called the motion "homophobic" and "un-Canadian."
If you think that what is happening in the US, won’t happen here… just go to Norwich Township Council and see the absolute homophobia that exists between this + the flag burnings last summer. This is why we need #Pride 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️— Kelly Elliott (@kellyelliottmcm) April 26, 2023
I’m extremely proud of Councillor Stubbs! #onmuni https://t.co/g2LYYdd9iV
Scholten suggested that raising the Pride flag would inspire other communities to request their own flags as well.
Norwich Township in southern Ontario *today* voted to ban non-gov’t flags, incl. Pride & Pride Progress flags being flown/displayed on public property and voted against declaring June as Pride month. Homophobia is alive and well in Canada even if you don’t believe it is. https://t.co/0EwwfrjgxS— JAWN • ə • thən (@jprast1) April 26, 2023
The motion managed to pass 3-2 with Mayor Jim Palmer breaking the tie.
This is very disturbing! Friends and allies, I urge you to reach out to the mayor and councillors over email.— Sarah 🫐 (@booksandtea123) April 21, 2023
I made a Google doc with a sample email + their contact information that you can access here:https://t.co/qtpvVP6MU8 https://t.co/FglHYUk988
In 2022, rainbow flags hanging on the town's lamp posts in celebration of Pride month were ripped and burned down in protest.
About growing hate in Canada, the 🏳️🌈 flag and why yes, we still need Pride in 2023. In the last week:— Nick Schiavo (@NickSchiavo_) April 26, 2023
➡️ Students in Halifax burned the Pride flag at their high school,
➡️ Norwich, Ontario banned the Pride flag from any government property (inspiring other municipalities),
The council also voted against a motion that would recognize June as Pride month in the township.
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