A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)

Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

A B.C. city’s victory in a human rights complaint over a rainbow flag cost just over $62,000.

After the flag flew at Langley City hall to mark Pride Week, conservative and anti-SOGI Langley activist Kari Simpson went to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in 2018 to argue the banner “panders to sex activism, bully tactics, child abuse and special rights for certain groups.”

In response, the City hired the law firm of Norton Rose Fulbright to defend the matter at a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing.

A report to council filed on Sept. 30 by Chief Administrative Officer Francis Cheung described the process as “lengthy and involved.”

“While the City was successful in defending itself against the complaint, the effort and time required by the City’s solicitor to prepare and submit evidence was considerable, resulting in legal costs totalling $62,058.05,” Cheung wrote.

READ ALSO: Pride Flag flies over Langley City

Unlike a court case, where a successful applicant can apply to have the other party or parties pay a portion of their legal costs, at a Humans Right hearing costs are less likely to be awarded, with the Human Rights Code saying they can be ordered when a party “has engaged in improper conduct during the course of the complaint.”

When the City rejected Simpson’s complaint about the Pride flag, she asked to fly what she called the “Canadian Christian Flag” on what she termed the “National Day of Blessing.”

Simpson identified herself as the “head organizer for the Langley Christian Flag committee and the organizer for the National Day of Blessings” when she launched her complaint to the tribunal.

READ ALSO: Human rights complaint over Langley Pride flag tossed out

“According to publicly available information filed by the City, the City says that Ms. Simpson appears to be the creator of the ‘National Day of Blessings’ and the ‘Canadian Christian flag’ and Oct. 1, 2018 appears to be the first time that Ms. Simpson celebrated this day and flag,” the tribunal’s judgment said. “Ms. Simpson does not dispute this.”

Simpson held a rally outside City hall at which the flag was displayed, but it was not raised on a City flagpole.

In April, the tribunal dismissed Simpson’s complaint.

There was no evidence of any danger to her life, or of how the City might have incited “contempt and hatred for Christians” as she claimed, the ruling stated.

It went on to point out the long history of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

“Pride celebrations help to counteract the historical discrimination committed against LGBTQ+ communities and help to bring those communities from a position of disadvantage to a more equal standing with heterosexual and cisgendered individuals who have historically enjoyed societal acceptance,” the ruling said. “The act of flying the Rainbow Flag also serves a similar purpose.”



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Langley CityPolitics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

dd
LETTER: Masks, seat belts and motorcycle helmets

From reader Heinz Winterscheidt

Laird Creek watershed logging road. Photo: Renee Hayes.
COLUMN: Healthy watersheds support resilient communities

Kendra Norwood writes about nature-based planning

Glacier Gymnastics head coach Sandra Long says she doesn’t understand why her sport is currently shut down while others are allowed to operate. Photo: Tyler Harper
‘It is bewildering’: Nelson sports leaders call out provincial shut down

Indoor group classes for activities such as gymnastics and dance are on hold

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

Most Read