Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Stuck in the Dark Ages in Truro, N.S.

Just when you thought we were alive, well and living in 2007, we get an awful reminder from out east that queer folk remain quite unwelcome or unappreciated in some parts of Canada.

The story this week about Truro, Nova Scotia mayor Bill Mills (pictured) is truly disturbing. Truro is a town of about 45,000 north of Halifax.

Mills refused to fly the gay pride flag at city hall for this week's celebrations, saying doing so would promote a lifestyle that conflicts with his religious views - and most of the town's council backed him.

"There are writings in the book of Romans chapter one, to name a few - basically I have to go with that conviction, and I know it's not a popular one," Mayor Mills told the press.

Wow, to hear a public official make such a statement in 2007 in Canada! Your religious views allow you to discriminate against other human beings?

The mayor insisted, as a Christian, he has a right to his opinions, and he stands behind his decision.

"The mayor of Truro has embarrassed a lot of Christians by interpreting the bible in a very unfavourable way," said Rev. David Fletcher, an Anglican priest. "If we want to shout bible passages back and forth, my bible bullet would come from Galatians in Chapter 3, where St. Paul says that in Christ, there is no more exclusion."

This whole thing reminds me of Toronto in the 1980s when former mayor Art Eggleton refused to proclaim Gay Pride Day in Canada's largest city. Toronto's Gay Pride, which now brings millions into the city in tourism dollars every year, wasn't officially sanctioned by the city until Eggleton left office in 1991.

The same thing happened in London, Ontario in the 1990s where former mayor Dianne Haskett seemed to have difficulty leaving her religion out of her politics. Many Londoners believed her religious views against homosexuality influenced her decision to refuse to recognize Gay Pride in her city.

Richard Hudler, president of the Homophile Association of London, Ontario (HALO), filed an official complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1995 against Haskett and London City Council. In 1997, the Commission ruled that the City of London and Mayor Haskett had discriminated against HALO in the provision of a municipal service. Both the City of London and Haskett were fined $5,000.

Can a city or town refuse to proclaim a service (such as officially recognizing Gay Pride Day) because of the religious beliefs of council members?

Well, legal precedent clearly indicates a loud 'No'. This is Canada where public servants are supposed to respect the rights of all, not just those who share their religious views. We are a pluralistic society where respect for diversity is supposed to be paramount, or so I thought. I also thought most people, even the religious, recognized the importance of the division of church and state.

Apparently not in Truro, Nova Scotia. How shameful, indeed.

It's great to see that this ill-advised refusal by council has inspired a huge backlash in the community.

I'm sure this isn't the last we've heard of this story.


Anonymous said...

This guy is supposed to be the mayor of ALL the people - not just those who have the same beliefs.

If he doesn't want to represent all the people - then gays should be relieve of paying their municipal taxes.

If he can't represent ALL the people because of "his" religious convictions - he should step down.

Jay said...

I wonder if he will be forth coming with returning all tax dollars given by homosexuals in the town since his election. No citizen should have to pay to taxes just to be treated as undesirables.

I am sure this council can be sued. There are procedures for denying such requests and Christian doctrine is not one of them, never was.

I hope homosexuals in the area mob that council and stay there until the mayor resigns. Apologies are too late at this point.

Andrew said...

As for the flags, fly them from your own houses. What business does a homosexual flag have-(or any sexual flag for that matter) flying from the town hall? And expecting a Christian to willingly go along with it??? NEVER!!

The real embarassment is that apostate Anglican 'priest' appearing on the news in defense of homosexuality. That is an attack on the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil"--God the Father

Matt said...

Andrew, Pride Day is a community event, a day to recognize a minority community in a culture that largely ignores it, it's about celebrating diversity, it is not merely a "sexual flag" as you put it. Christians or any public official has a duty to serve all of those in his community, not just heterosexuals. If he or she is not willing to do that, he should resign. This mayor is in violation of human rights laws by using his religion to dictate a town's actions in secular, pluralistic Canada. There are many, many Christians who have no problem with homosexuality because it is obvious that it is innate in the individual, the individual does not choose their sexual orientation, God chooses it for them and the love between a same sex couple is just as powerful and important to them as any strong, heterosexual relationship. Homosexuality is good.

Andrew said...

"Christians or any public official has a duty to serve all of those in his community, not just heterosexuals."

Absolutely. Leave the sexuality out of it, and there will be no conflict.
BTW, how dare you demand that the mayor transgress against his God, and also bash him for not doing so?
You people seem to love tolerance only when it works for your agenda.

As for homosexuality being good,--(hope you've got your tolerance turned on)--to me that's a blasphemous statement.

Anyway, as strongly in opposition as we are, let it be known I have no hatred toward you whatsoever. Christ sacrificed himself for all of us, and I realize that I am no better than any of you.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, a group of churches in the Halifax Regional Municipality decided to have a day of prayer for the family. No one sold it as an anti-gay event. Rather it was intended to bolster the morale of the nearly extinct "nuclear family". Gay rights protestors showed up in scores and while we were trying to pray, and while various ministers were speaking, they hollered and jeered and chanted, showing a level of disrespect that I have never seen before.
You cannot "have your cake and eat it too." You cannot insist on being accepted and respected if you cannot show others the same courtesy.
You have the right to make your own choices. As do I. You do not accept my lifestyle. Why must I be forced or legislated to accept yours?
I respect Mayor Mills for having the courage to speak his convictions.

Matt Guerin said...

anonymous, those protesters who disturbed that prayer group were rude. I don't support that kind of disrespect.

But for every gay group that disturbs a Christian event, there are many more Christians who continue to attack and protest gay events.

You'll note the Rev. Fred Phelps in the U.S. who has protested at the funerals of gays and lesbians, taunting their loved ones that they are "in hell" and deserved to die and that "God hates Fags" etc.

The kind of intolerance directed at Christians by gay protesters simply cannot compare to the level of hate that has been thrown at gays and lesbians by these religious extremists.

Most gays and lesbians have been deeply wounded all their lives by the so-called religious. Hence the reason many continue to react negatively when reminded again by some that our lives are "sinful".

But it's true that we all need to get along more and stop yelling at each other. I for one would never protest a religious event.