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Pride flag fight cost Langley $62,000

City report notes price tag of two-year defence against claim that LGBTQ+rainbow flag is discriminatory

Defending a human rights tribunal discrimination complaint around flying a Pride flag cost the City of Langley more than $62,000.

B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal in April dismissed a complaint saying Langley’s flying an LGBTQ+ rainbow flag is discriminatory.

Complainant Kari Simpson said it discriminated against her on the bases of accommodation, service and facility on the basis of religion, sexual identity and gender identity or expression.

Simpson, president of Culture Guard, said flying the flag incited “contempt and hatred for Christians, and any other religious group that does not accept the sex activists’ political agenda,” the ruling said.

Simpson described herself as “a Canadian, a Christian, a local business owner, president of a non‐profit organization called Culture Guard and a local resident who is often in the vicinity of the Langley City flag poles.”

She told the tribunal flying the rainbow flag while denying her request for the “Canadian Christian Flag” to be flown on the “National Day of Blessings” was discriminatory.

She described the flag as a symbol of a campaign that “panders to sex activism, bully tactics, child abuse and special rights for certain groups” and is “oppressive and used to direct hatred and contempt against anyone who dares challenge the LGBTQ2++ narrative” and a “trigger event that causes those who have been sexually assaulted by someone of the same sex to have to relive painful events.”

Further, she said, “like the Nazi flag, the rainbow flag is a symbol for a militant political movement.”

The city’s council passed a motion in July 2016 amending its flag policy to include flying the Rainbow Flag for a one‐week period annually during Vancouver’s annual Pride Week.

In a September 30 report to city council, chief administrative officer Francis Cheung said the city hired law firm Norton Rose Fulbright to defend the city in the two-year case.

“While the city was successful in defending itself against the complaint, the effort and time required by the City’s solicitor to prepare and submit evidence was considerable, resulting in legal costs totalling $62,058.05,” Cheung reported.

Cheung told council the tribunal may not be able to award costs to the city as the claim is not a legal one. He said staff can determine if there are any means of recovering the city’s costs.