B.C. premier’s office received homophobic emails for flying a gay pride flag during the Sochi Olympics

Emails sent to the B.C. premier’s office in response to a rainbow flag flying over the legislature last February attacked the provincial government with homophobic rhetoric and threats.

The general themes that emerged from the emails included homophobia, bigotry, and hate (plus an often substantial amount of misinformation and poor grammar and spelling).

“I write this to you to express my disgust at your forcing your opinion on the Province at large,” one read. “Shame as the government buildings are adorned with the multi- striped symbol of homosexual Propaganda. There is nothing Gay and nothing to be Proud of in forcing a 'celebration' of sodomic sex.”

Many of the messages described the flag’s presence in Victoria as an attack on so-called ‘family values’.

“I strongly resent the flying of a flag of a sexual/political group over the legislature,” another email stated. “We are all aware of the spreading of propaganda and lies by the selfish infertile sexually confused men and women who demand that you bow to their whims every time they stamp their feet.”

The emails were published online by the province on April 1 in response to a freedom of information request. Their authors’ identifies were withheld in accordance with privacy laws. 

The rainbow flag—a symbol of LGBT pride around the world—flying over the B.C. legislature was intended as a show of solidarity in response to homophobic legislation passed by lawmakers in Russia. At the time, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games were underway in Sochi, a resort town in Russia.

Government buildings and city halls across Canada flew rainbow flags during that time; the B.C. legislature was actually one of the last to do so.

Qmunity operations and development manager Kevin Keystone said that he initially tried to dismiss the emails’ contents without attributing them any importance. But he told the Straight that his reaction quickly turned to “sadness and fear”.

“It’s a really stark reminder that homophobia and hatred of LGBTQ folk is alive and well in British Columbia,” Keystone said in a telephone interview.

Several emails included the name of Spencer Chandra Herbert, the openly gay MLA for Vancouver-West End. Chandra Herbert had asked the B.C. attorney general and the speaker of the House to fly the rainbow flag at the legislature. It was raised on February 13.

Chandra Herbert's West End office was attacked on February 21 by Michael Melvin Williams who allegedly said he was angry about rainbow flags flying on Denman Street. Williams was charged with assault and mischief on March 3. Those allegations have not been proven in a court.

At least one message received by the premier’s office included a vague threat. “This government better not be part of sexual , radicle perverted stuff they are trying to introduce to school children,” it read. “It better not happen in BC or I will be coming to Victoria.”

Keystone said the homophobic contents of the emails serve as an explanation why it is still necessary for politicians to show their support for LGBT individuals through symbolic gestures like the raising of rainbow flags. He also noted that queer youth have the highest suicide rate for any identifiable group of young people.

“Awareness is still important because homophobia still exists,” Keystone continued. “Ultimately, the fight for equality is not going to be won until we can walk down the street of every town in British Columbia, large and small, holding our partner’s hand, and feeling safe and included.”

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Comments

8 Comments

Kai

Apr 3, 2014 at 10:33pm

“Awareness is still important because homophobia still exists,”

Ugh, no idiot. “Homophobia’ is a fake, contrived term and as such it does not exist. Stop trying to confuse disgust and revulsion with irrational fear.

“Ultimately, the fight for equality is not going to be won…”

Except that you’re not interested in equality, are you? What you really want is special status within society. Otherwise you wouldn’t support BS legislation like “hate crime” laws.

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Barry William Teske

Apr 3, 2014 at 11:29pm

It is always the last resort of hate.
When it can no longer legitamately defend its views it resorts to violence.
I would like to go on and list the multitude of instances this happens in history but we are all educated enough
to know such horrendous violence has happened before?
Not to just the GLBTQ groups, but any group perceived to be lesser because they don't fit that age old dogma on what race, creed, sexuality, and normal is as defined by what a programmed fundamentalism decides.
I am hopeful that continued vigilance will prevail.
We ALL are equal or we are not a civilized society.

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David Gervais

Apr 4, 2014 at 7:15am

@Kai
Just what "special status within society." do you refer to? Having equal police protection from being beaten in the streets? Having equal rights to housing?

And hate crimes legislation? It protects people from being attacked for being Ukrainian, Jewish, female, black, white, green, religious, Asian, bigoted and any other irrational reasons some people come up with. Wherever you fit in that list, hate crimes against you are criminal.
Where is your objection to that?

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We need more flags.

Apr 4, 2014 at 8:14am

The Canadian flag is outdated in modern society. I think all government buildings should have 4000, maybe more, flag poles to identify with every subsection of the population. We must do whatever it takes to make sure no one can possibly be offended by anything. Each Vision member, and every politician for that matter, can then go on twenty publicly funded grandstanding tours a year to show their solidarity with the "cause".

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East Side Pride

Apr 4, 2014 at 6:46pm

@Kai "BS legislation like “hate crime” laws" ...Really? Back under your bridge Troll!

Or better yet, Move to Russia! We don't want your kind round here!

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AC

Apr 5, 2014 at 12:54am

It's just a nice colourful flag, man. Can you imagine how batshit unhinged these bigots must get when they see a multicoloured arc across the sky after a rain?

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Andrew Chobaniuk

Apr 7, 2014 at 11:21pm

Is there a straight flag, will they fly that as well? Thus whole debate is silly, just because someone does not agree on religious grounds with homosexuality doesn't make them a bigot. If they turn that disagreement into hate speech like some of the people sending emails have, then yes they are. But we do have freedom of religion in this country, I happen to be Christian and disagree with homosexuality, that does not make me a bigot or homophobe because I do not promote hate. If someone purports to be a Christian and promotes hate against ANYONE they are hypocrites because the bible says to love, never hate. I saw a quote that me and my best friend (a staunch atheist) appreciate. It said, "an atheist and a Christian walk into a bar... And proceed to have a great time because neither are pretentious a-holes", I have many gay friends which this rings true for as well. Nobody is ever going to agree on everything, but if we can be civil and respect different opinions we all will get a lot more out of life.

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Barry William Teske

Apr 8, 2014 at 7:14am

Although the rainbow flag is a symbol in the GLBTQ communities you may be surprised at what the colours actually represent.

* red - life
* orange - healing
* yellow - sunlight
* green - nature
* blue - harmony
* violet - spirit

For a more indepth understanding see this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_flag_(LGBT_movement)

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