Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has been called homophobic, wants a rainbow flag flying at City Hall protesting Russia’s law restricting gay-rights activities to be removed and hoisted a Canadian flag in his office window in response on Friday.
Some city halls across Canada raised the pro-gay rights rainbow flag on Friday as the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics got underway in Sochi, Russia.
“It’s not about someone’s sexual preference,” Ford said. “I do not agree with putting up the rainbow flag. We should put our Canadian flag up.”
Ford brushed past reporters so he could go outside and inspect the Canadian flag that he put in his office window. He said he asked the city manager to take down the rainbow flag.
The mayor of Canada’s largest city last year made international headlines when he admitted to having smoked crack cocaine while in a drunken stupor. He has resisted pressure to step down and is seeking re-election, though the city council has stripped him of much of his powers. His erratic behavior has embarrassed many Canadians.
Allegations about Ford smoking crack surfaced in May when two reporters for the Toronto Star and one from the U.S. website Gawker said they saw a video of Ford appearing to smoke from a crack pipe, but they did not obtain a copy. In the video Ford reportedly makes an anti-gay slur against the leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada.
Earlier this week Ford and his brother, a city councilor, made comments about the city’s prominent gay pride festival that were criticized by some as homophobic.
Ford said he would never attend the city’s annual gay pride parade and said “I’m not going to change the way I am.”
The mayor has been criticized for not attending the June parade. He has previously said he skipped the event because he faithfully attends a family cottage on the weekend of Canada’s birthday.
Councilor Doug Ford defended his brother, saying he isn’t homophobic.
Doug said he’s been to the parade but won’t bring his kids again because he doesn’t “condone middle aged men running down the middle of the street buck naked.”
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said flying the rainbow flag is a sign of solidarity.