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Niagara Falls
Monday, February 26, 2024
Editorial: A sign of the times

Kevin MacLean
Richard Harley
The Lake Report 

Like most minorities and people who have endured decades of discrimination, members of the LGBTQ+ community have fought long and hard to be accepted and their human rights respected.

And like most minorities, the battle continues.

As we have reported and documented, casual and overt racism has often reared its head in Niagara-on-the-Lake over the years. So, we suppose it is not surprising that homophobic hate messages in the form of a lawn sign promoting “traditional marriage” is the latest volley in the privileged population's continuing war against “others.”

Virgil resident Rudi Koller, as reported on our front page this week, sees nothing wrong, hateful or discriminatory about the “Celebrating Our Traditional Marriage” sign he put up right beside a “No More Lockdowns” sign.

He is upset about Pride flags flying, rainbow crosswalks being proposed and what he calls the LGBTQ+ community's “promotion” of its “lifestyle” and “orientation.” All of those attitudes show a profound misunderstanding and ignorance of the human condition. And established human rights.

This is not about free speech – it's about hateful speech that targets a minority. Period. (And for what it's worth, freedom of speech is an Americanism. In Canada, our Charter gives us the right to freedom of expression, within limits.)

As with so many things nowadays, it took a post on social media to bring this case of obvious homophobia to the attention of the greater community.

And thankfully, most of those who commented on the posting understood the sign is a clear message of intolerance and hate toward the LGBTQ+ community and were critical of the person displaying it.

So, why is this homophobic? Well, it should be pretty self-explanatory, for many reasons, the most obvious perhaps being that it’s a not-so-subliminal message that somehow heterosexual marriages are better than others.

If it had just said, “Celebrating Our Marriage,” without “traditional” or the intertwined symbols of male and female gender, there wouldn’t have been an issue. That’s how people celebrate.

But including “traditional” is not only a mockery of the word, but an obvious attempt at provoking the LGBTQ+ community — a few days after Pride Month ended, no less. It is intentionally designed to hurt. Instead, it seems to have made a lot of people angry, embarrassed, feeling shameful.

While Mr. Koller says he was raised never to show hate to another person, and that doing so is cowardly, his actions speak louder. The fact he had several copies printed, anticipating problems, indicates he at least had an inkling as to how the sign might be received.

The intolerance is shameful, and not what a supposedly progressive, friendly town is supposed to be.

Perhaps therein lies the bigger, unspoken problem. Together with other instances of bigotry here, perhaps our quaint little tourist town really is not as friendly and tolerant as we’d like to believe.

It seems Niagara-on-the-Lake still has a long way to go.

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