For a second time, a Metro Vancouver church has become a target of anti–LGBT vandalism on the same weekend that the Township of Langley removed a Pride flag from a resident's yard.
Ladner United Church displayed a rainbow flag for the United Church of Canada’s inaugural Pride Sunday. However, on June 3, the church discovered that the flag had been defaced by black paint.
The church responded by having inviting the public to write LGBT–supportive messages on the vandalized flag, and a new flag was also ordered.
But the community also rose up in an outpouring of LGBT support.
The City of Delta, Delta School District, Delta Police Department, two other churches, and others all raised Pride flags or displayed rainbows on their social media profile pictures.
However, on June 15, the church discovered that their replacement flag had also been marred by black paint.
“This is not simple vandalism, but a clear message and intentional criminal act,” the church stated on social media. “Let us be clear in our response: we will not be deterred in living out the love of Christ in word and deed in our community. We are not afraid or ashamed. We encircle our #LGBTQ+ church members, family, friends, and neighbours with love and solidarity.”
Delta police are investigating these incidents.
Delta Police Department Chief Neil Dubbord also wrote an opinion piece in the Delta Optimist about how his police force values diversity and strives to be inclusive. He noted that June is Pride Month and that such events “encourage empathy, understanding, and inclusion” and he also stated that their bias-free training “focuses on creating awareness of implicit biases in ourselves and how we must learn to recognize them and, most importantly, ensure that we are not allowing any personal biases we may have to direct our behaviours”.
Delta Mayor George Harvie, who had directed the city to raise the Pride flag on June 5 for its first time ever at Delta city hall after the first time the Ladner church’s flag was defaced, expressed his condemnation on social media after the second act of vandalism.
“This community will not tolerate such despicable acts,” he stated, adding that the city stands in with the church and the LGBT community.
To counter the negativity, about 20 students from Delta Secondary School used coloured chalk to cover the sidewalk and steps of the church in messages of inclusion and love, according to the Delta Optimist.
In other LGBT flag news in Metro Vancouver this past week, the Township of Langley removed a Pride flag draped over the Bertrand Creek subdivision sign on a woman’s property on May 14 after a neighbor complained about it.
However, the township apologized and returned the flag after it discover it had mistaken the sign as being on public property.
Langley resident Lisa Ebernal told CTV Vancouver that she was not contacted about the removal of the flag and questioned why it was removed so swiftly after the complaint.
But up to 15 neighbours responded to the flag being removed by raising their own rainbow flags in solidarity, according to Global News.
The negative responses to Pride flags as well as rainbow crosswalks throughout the Lower Mainland reveal the ongoing controversies about queer issues despite advancements in LGBT rights and mainstream representation and acceptance.
In Vancouver this past weekend, activists both for and against SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) issues, particularly transgender inclusion, held rallies simultaneously in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on June 15.
This protest was held one week before controversial anti–SOGI speaker Jenn Smith is slated to hold a talk at UBC, which LGBT activists and allies are preparing to counter with a rally in support of trans rights.