Montreal, Quebec City to fly rainbow flag during Olympic Games
Published Thursday, February 6, 2014 11:28AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 6, 2014 10:57PM EST
Instead of flying the Olympic flag at city hall when the games begin in Sochi, Mayor Denis Coderre says Montreal will hoist a rainbow flag – and keep it there for the duration of the games.
"I will raise the rainbow flag at City Hall as a protest against Russian homophobia," tweeted Coderre on Thursday morning.
Quebec City and the Olympic Board confirmed that rainbow flags would also fly outside city hall in Quebec City, and at Montreal's Olympic park. The Olympic stadium's tower will be lit up with the colours of the rainbow, as well.
“Montreal is very open-minded about the LGBT population,” said Steve Foster of Quebec’s LGBT Council, noting that the rest of the province is similarly accepting.
Last year, Russia introduced a law that outlawed the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," that effectively forbids people from discussing homosexuality or taking part in pride parades.
In recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak have said that athletes don't have to worry about breaking the law as long as homosexuals keep their hands off children.
Rights activists said there has been an increase in harassment and abuse of homosexuals ever since the law was passed.
Homosexuality was a crime in the former Soviet Union, and decriminalized in Russia in 1993.
In Montreal, the Emergence Foundation welcomed local politicians’ decision to take a stance on the issue.
“When we saw what was happening in Russia -- when Putin decided to put in this law -- and the reaction of the people of Russia supporting it, we got really worried,” said the foundation’s Martine Roy. “We're in 2014 right?”
Emergence has launched an ad campaign highlighting the Sochi games, showing same sex athletes kissing.
They’ve printed posters and stickers, and the images have been shared widely on social media.
“Two persons kissing, right?” Roy said. “It's love. Love is the basis of everything in life.”
The folks at Google have taken a stance as well. The Google doodle on Feb. 6 featured rainbow-blocked letters, with a quote from the Olympic charter posted below:
“"The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
Meanwhile the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion has posted an ad online saying the Olympics "have always been a little gay. Let's keep them that way.