Pride banners put up in Langford were vandalized less than a day after they were first installed.
Langford Coun. Kimberly Guiry said five of the banners were painted with red spray paint. City staff quickly removed the banners and had replaced them by 9 a.m. on June 1.
“Having the vandalism come out right out off the bat was frustrating to say the least. I think we’ve got a lot of exciting things to move forward with,” said Guiry in an interview with Black Press, alluding to events later in the summer the city is planning.
Rainbow flag posters were hung from lamp posts along Goldstream Avenue from Jacklin Road to Veterans Memorial Parkway to mark June 1, the first day of Pride Month. There was also a banner hung over the roundabout at Goldstream and Bryn Maur Road, lights along Station Avenue and the Progress Pride flag was on display outside of City Hall, Langford Fire Hall #1 on Peatt Road and at Starlight Stadium.
I was incredibly saddened but honestly more furious to learn that 5 of our Langford banners were vandalized in the first 24 hours of being displayed. Hate has no place in our city. pic.twitter.com/4Sp0lOQQhA— Kimberley Guiry (she/her) 🏳️🌈 (@kimberleyguiry) June 2, 2023
Guiry decried the news on Twitter, comments that were echoed by several other councillors.
It makes me so happy to see our community celebrating & embracing love, diversity & inclusion!— Colby Harder (@colby_harder) June 1, 2023
Growing up in Langford, I admittedly had a skewed vision of what being an ally looked like while I had friends leave our community in search of a more accepting place to call home. pic.twitter.com/mfMh8tdbiz
“Growing up in Langford, I admittedly had a skewed vision of what being an ally looked like while I had friends leave our community in search of a more accepting place to call home,” Coun. Colby Harder tweeted earlier on June 1.
However, Guiry said she didn’t think the vandalism is representative of attitudes in Langford as a whole.
“I’ve heard more supportive comments about the banners from residents – first because they saw them out in the community, and they were just so ecstatic to see that visibility in their downtown and seeing that change. So the message of celebration and just feeling gratitude of that change has been overwhelming.”
Speaking during a media event in Langford on Wednesday (May 25), Premier David Eby said residents should push back if they witness hate, when he was asked about the rising number of hate crimes against LGBTQ2S+ people.
“Well, I think the strength of our province is our openness, our diversity being welcome to everybody, regardless of who you are, or who you love or where you come from. That’s what British Columbia is all about. That’s what I’m proud of and Pride’s a great way to celebrate that. And every day, it’s important for British Columbians. So I hope that people push back when they hear about hate and they celebrate love during Pride, and they celebrate our community every day in the province.”
Hate crimes targeting people because of their sexual orientation were at record highs in 2021, with 423 hate crimes recorded, above the previous peak of 265 in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. Crimes targeting people because of their race, gender or religion as a whole also broke record highs, jumping to 3,360 in 2021 from 2,646 incidents in 2020, a 27 per cent increase. That comes after a 36 per cent increase in 2020.