Surrey's Refusal to Fly LGBT Pride Flag at City Hall Questioned Again

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Rainbow flag LGBT gay / Shutterstock

The City of Surrey’s unwillingness to permit the iconic rainbow LGBT flag to be flown at City Hall is once again making waves in and around the densely populated community as Pride Week approaches.

The annual celebration is observed this year in Surrey June 28, and culminates in the Surrey Pride Festival on July 6.

Earlier this year, Surrey was scrutinized for opting not to join other Canadian cities in flying the well-known rainbow striped flag during the 2014 Winter Olympics in support of gay athletes. Surrey, however, has remained staunchly committed to keeping the flags flown outside their new City Hall to three: National, provincial, and city. Well, except when they break their own rules to add a fourth, like in 2010, when they managed to find room for the Olympic flag on their flagpoles.

“[T]he pride flag has never been flown in any official capacity in Surrey in 15 years of celebrating pride,” LGBT advocate and Surrey resident Martin Rooney told The Now. Rooney also appeared on CBC Radio One’s Early Edition Monday morning to discuss Surrey city officials’ reactions to requests the flag be raised to honor LGBT residents.

surrey-city-hall
Surrey’s new City Hall opened in April of this year (City of Surrey/Facebook)

Rooney says Surrey claims “federal flag protocol” prohibits them from adding a fourth flag to the flagpoles, however Rooney observes that in other cities, the solution has been to simply fly the rainbow flag beneath the city flag on a shared post.

Currently a report on “proper protocol” for flags is awaiting approval by Surrey City Council; the report is posted on the Encourage Surrey BC City Hall to fly the Pride Flag Facebook page.

Social media has played a crucial role in the movement to urge Surrey to allow the LGBT flag to be flown during pride week; Rooney says he did not hear back from Surrey officials until he hashtagged Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts in a tweet from his personal Twitter account. Watts’ reply was “that there was never a refusal to fly the pride flag, (but) there was never a formal request to do so,” Rooney told The Now.

The matter goes before the Surrey City Council tonight, and while Rooney said today he was “hopeful” he was also “realistic” about the outcome.

Top image: nito / Shutterstock

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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