A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint filed by social conservative activist Kari Simpson.
The complaint was about the City of Langley’s action in the summer of 2018 to fly the rainbow flag of the LGBT community.
In the same period, the city denied Simpson’s request to hoist what she referred to as a Canadian Christian flag.
Simpson claimed in her complaint that she was discriminated against when the LGBT flag was flown at Langley cityhall, while the Canadian Christian was not.
According to her, this violated the B.C. Human Rights Code, which provides, among others, that no one should be discriminated against in the provision of service, accommodation, and facility, on the basis of religion, sexual identity, and gender identity or expression.
Ruling on an application by the city, tribunal member Paul Singh dismissed the complaint without a hearing.
“LGBTQ+ communities have faced historical disadvantage, discrimination and barrier to equal social rights, equal access to services, and equal treatment under the law,” Singh wrote in his reasons for decision.
According to Singh, Pride celebrations “help to counteract the historical discrimination committed against LGBTQ+ communities and help to bring those communities from a position of disadvantage to a more equal standing with heterosexual and cisgendered individuals who have historically enjoyed societal acceptance”.
“The act of flying the Rainbow Flag also serves a similar purpose,” Singh explained.
Singh noted that the flag is a “symbol of pride representing the diversity of LGBTQ+ communities and is a symbol to promote inclusivity and to address issues such as racial discrimination, cultural exclusions, and other challenges faced by those in the LGBTQ+ communities”.
Singh stated that the city’s decision to fly the rainbow flag and not the Canadian Christian Flag could be seen as “differential treatment”.
However, “differential treatment in the service of equity does not necessarily constitute discrimination”.
“It has long been established in Canadian law that differential treatment alone is not sufficient to establish discrimination,” according to Singh.
Also, there is “no evidence to suggest that any distinction in treatment has adversely impacted Ms. Simpson in any meaningful way”.
Singh recalled that despite Langley’s denial of her request, Simpson and others displayed the Canadian Christian flag in front of cityhall on October 1, 2018.
“There is no dispute that Ms. Simpson was able to exercise her freedoms of expression and religion to celebrate her ‘National Day of Blessings’ and display her ‘Canadian Christian Flag’ without any hindrance from the City in a space that is customarily available to the public, within a few steps of the City’s flag poles,” Singh wrote.
Singh also cited the city’s explanation that its denial of Simpson’s request to fly the Canadian Christian flag is “not premised on discrimination against the Christian faith or any religion”.
“Rather, the City says it does not provide courtesy flag services to any religion because it is bound by a duty of religious neutrality,” Singh wrote.
Singh also recalled that in her complaint form, Simpson likened the rainbow flag to the Nazi flag.
Singh wrote that according to Simpson, “like the Nazi flag, the rainbow flag is a symbol for militant political movement”.
“It was created to declare power and victory and represents a political movement; and it identifies with political propaganda that is hostile and threatening towards other protected groups,” Simpson declared, according to Singh.