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

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