Toronto
2 min

Burn, baby, burn

Cop helps little lost zealot torch the flag

CAMPY THEATRICAL PERFORMANCE? The family of Pastor Fred Phelps does the dirty deed. Credit: Georgette Roy

They had to get police advice on how to burn it, but after repeatedly failing to show, US anti-gay zealots finally succeeded this month in torching the Canadian flag in front of the Supreme Court Of Canada building in Ottawa.



Later that day, Aug 2, the group traveled to Montreal and got into a tussle. Punches and shoves were traded after the religious protesters showed up downtown.



A brawl ensued at Dorchester Square, west of the gay village, after the protesters unfurled a flag labeled “Fag flag.”



No one was injured and two rainbow flag-waving counter protesters, a man and a woman in their 20s, were arrested. One will be charged with disturbing the peace, said Constable Ian Lafrenière.



After repeated no-shows from Pastor Fred Phelps, a handful of his followers crossed into Canada to protest a recent court decision granting spousal benefits to same sex couples.



“We are speaking out against the Supreme Court’s decision that has legalized what God has condemned, homosexual marriages and the homosexual lifestyle,” said Phelp’s grandson Sam Roper on Aug 2.



He asked police what fuel would best burn the nylon flag.



“God’s hate is wonderful, and it’s perfect and somebody needs to talk about it,” said Margie Phelps, daughter of the Westboro Baptist pastor based in Topeka, Kansas. “We are here to basically say it’s not okay to be gay. Apparently the people of Canada – at least the outspoken majority – have concluded that it is okay.”



The group, mostly family members of the Phelps clan, brandished placards declaring “God Hates Fags” and “Sows can Wed.” They held an upside down Canadian flag with the words “Fag Flag,” chanted slogans, and offered a variation to the national anthem that included the phrase “our home and faggot land.”



“You and your kind promote this filthy lifestyle, you will all suffer in hell,” Margie Phelps told this reporter.



Pastor Phelps and his church have become infamous for picketing funerals of gay men who have died from AIDS. For weeks Phelps had promised to come to Ottawa to protest the country he calls “a great malignant tumor.”



Phelps himself failed to show. His daughter claims he wanted to come but was probably busy with other protests in the US. (In fact, he was in Chicago protesting homosexuals there; he had complained that too few Canadian police were prepared to ensure his safety the last time he didn’t show).



Gay rights protesters, who outnumbered Phelps’s people, sang the national anthem.



Police were on hand. Sgt Pat Callaghan of the Ottawa Carleton Police Service’s Hate Crime Unit says the Phelps group assured that the demonstration would be peaceful. There was only one incident where a passer-by charged the US protesters, shouting “get the hell out of our country you bastards.”



He was quickly escorted away by a lone Mountie.



Earlier, Phelps’s followers picketed three Ottawa-area churches. For the most part, church goers and passers-by ignored them.