Small township defends itself against Pride enthusiasts

The township of Emo, Ont., faces the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal after the mayor and two councillors rejected a resolution to fly a pride flag in May 2020, leading to legal action from pride activists alleging that this decision was rooted in bigotry, homophobia and transphobia.

Small township defends itself against Pride enthusiasts
Ken Kellar/Fort Frances Times
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The small township of Emo, Ont., population 1400, is in front of Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal today after the mayor and two councillors voted down a resolution to erect a pride flag in May 2020.

Mayor Harold McQuaker voted against the resolution to fly a pride flag arguing that he didn’t see it necessary to fly a flag for Pride Month given that there is no flag flown for heterosexuals.

The 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride organization called Borderland Pride launched legal action against the Township of Emo, Mayor Harold McQuaker, Councillors Harrold Boven and Warren Toles thereafter.

They called the decision “explicitly homophobic and/or transphobic and rooted in bigotry.”

Activist lawyer Douglas Judson, who is a human rights lawyer and listed applicant in the human rights complaint, seeks $45,000 in hurt feelings damages – $15,000 from the township and $10,000 each from the mayor and two councillors who voted against the proclamation of pride.

In addition to the shakedown cash, Borderland wants Emo to apologize and proclaim June as Pride Month in the future and fly the rainbow flag.

Lawyer Paul Cassan, representing the mayor and township of Emo, wanted the case tossed after Judson published confidential filings online, in contravention of the tribunal's own rules.

Confidentiality of Documents Rule 3.3 states that “Parties and their representatives may not use documents obtained under these Rules for any purpose other than in the proceeding before the Tribunal.”

It appears that residents' wishes are not a consideration of this proceeding. Borderland Pride submitted a petition containing 1700 signatures to town council, demanding they declare June as Pride Month.

The town has a population of 1400, with only 29 of the signatories being local residents.

The proceedings are scheduled to run again tomorrow, July 12.

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