After years of requests from the LGBTQ community to fly the gay pride flag, Surrey has acquiesced and has hoisted the rainbow colours at city hall.
On Tuesday, it was flying at half mast in honour of the Orlando, Florida mass shooting victims. The flag will remain up at city hall until Surrey’s annual pride parade on June 26.
For several years, Surrey’s gay community has fought to have the pride flag at city hall. Council repeatedly rejected the requests, stating the city follows federal and provincial flag practices and protocols.
“The one exception to our practice was in 2010 in flying the Olympic flag with the City of Surrey flag,” the Surrey flag policy states. “This practice was sanctioned by the Provincial Protocol Office at the time we were classified as a venue city.”
Last year, Surrey allowed members of the gay community to open a information kiosk at city hall in advance of the gay pride parade.
On Monday, Surrey council voted unanimously to fly the pride flag at city hall in “solidarity, sympathy and support for the LGBTQ community following the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.”
Early Sunday morning, a gunman walked into “Pulse,” a gay nightclub in Orlando, and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle. He left 49 dead and another 52 injured and was then shot dead by police.
“Under these extraordinary and trying circumstances, Surrey stands with the people of Orlando and the rest of the civilized world in condemning this heinous act of hate and terror,” said Mayor Linda Hepner. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families and all who have been affected by this senseless tragedy.”
In addition to flying the flag, the rainbow colours of the pride flag (pictured left) now illuminate the plaza outside city hall in support of the LGBTQ community.
“Flying the Pride Flag is an act of solidarity in condemning this cold-blooded attack. We will not be cowed by this extreme act of hate and violence,” said Coun. Vera Lefranc, who tabled the motion at Monday’s council meeting. “To show our support of the LGBTQ community, the pride flag will be flown at Surrey City Hall until June 26 to coincide with the Surrey Pride Festival.”