Canadian Police are investigating an incident in which two rainbow flags were found burnt outside Fort McMurray’s first gay pride event in Alberta on Saturday.
A group of people allegedly took the flags from Bailey’s Pub in Fort McMurray late Saturday evening and later set fire to them in a car park.
Almost 100 people were at Bailey’s Pub for an LGBTQmunity event called Pride @ The Pub when two rainbow flags went missing.
Michael Kenny, vice-president of LGBTQmunity, called the actions “saddening”.
He said: “I think it makes a statement when you take a symbol of the LGBTQ community here in Fort McMurray, you steal it and then you burn it outside our venue’s main entrance.
“I think you do that because you’re making a statement and you’re making a statement that people who identify as LGBTQ aren’t welcome here”.
A security recording has emerged of someone taking one of the flags but there is no footage of the actual burning. However, several eyewitnesses have reported to have seen the incident take place.
Mr Kenny reviewed the videos on Sunday after he heard of the incident. He filed a complaint with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Monday morning and said the videos show clear images of the people involved.
Christina Wilkins of the Wood Buffalo RCMP said they have received the complaint and are currently investigating.
Sheldon Parsons, the president of LGBTQmunity said: “I can’t say why they did it and I can’t say if it was hate fuelled. but it’s hurtful to see something like that.”
Mr Parsons said that the city has been “moving in the right direction” when it comes to accepting the LGBT community.
“I have been watching Fort McMurray change and grow,” Mr Parsons said. “But there are still changes that have to happen within the community.”
Mr Kenny also said that the actions are not representative of Fort McMurray, where citizens are largely positive towards LGBT people.
He said: “There seems to be a consensus in the community, the broad community, that the act of taking these flags was completely unacceptable and completely inappropriate”.
In July, the city of Vancouver unveiled rainbow street crossings amid Pride Week celebrations, and unlike similar crossings in Sydney earlier this year which were later removed, the local council said they were permanent.
In May, Pride Toronto faced the loss of its annual cultural grant over indecision as to whether the phrase ‘Israeli apartheid’ should be banned from the event, in a row which Peter Tatchell called “straightforward censorship”.