Pride flag flies high at Duncan City Hall

The pride flag flying will be flying outside Duncan city hall throughout the rest of the Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

City council voted at Monday’s meeting to join several other cities across Canada by flying the flag in support of LGBT rights and to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws.

“I think council felt strongly that issues, wherever they are in the world, that promote hatred or bigotry are something we need to speak up against,” Mayor Phil Kent said.

The idea to fly the flag was brought to council by Roger Chin and his partner, Jim VanDeventer. Chin was thrilled when Coun. Michelle Staples texted him to let him know it went through.

“I think this is a very visible step council is taking,” Chin said. “By putting up the pride flag, it’s a tangible action that people can see. It’s not just words; it’s action.”

Council also wrote a letter to the Internaional Olympic Committee advising that the city of Duncan is raising the flag to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws. Chin was surprised and pleased with that addition, as he and VanDeventer had only asked for the flag to be raised.

Kent asserted that human rights are important to city council.

“They offered this as an opportunity to make a stand, and council supported that,” he said.

Chin, who lives in the Cowichan Valley but works in Vancouver, watched on FaceTime as the flag was raised on Wednesday, and was very happy to witness it.

“Duncan is a very visible location, and I don’t think I’ve seen a city hall as pretty as that,” he said.

The Municipality of North Cowichan has a policy not to endorse any causes, but issued a statement about the Sochi games on its website.

“At its February 11 meeting, North Cowichan Council expressed support for all the participants in the Olympic Games at Sochi, regardless of sexual orientation,” it read. “Any discrimination based on sexual orientation, whether by action or in law, was condemned by Council.”