2 min

Gay candidate resigns over Pride photos on Facebook

Liberal opponent says photos show 'very poor judgment'

HEALTHY SEXUALITY. What's wrong with this photo, taken at a Pride party four years ago? The BC Liberals say it's 'very offensive' and inappropriate. Ray Lam resigned over it. What do you think? Credit: Facebook

The NDP’s gay Vancouver-False Creek candidate, Ray Lam, has stepped down over some sexually playful photos taken at a Pride celebration four years ago.

The resignation came Sunday after Lam’s Liberal opponent, Mary McNeil, took exception to the photos, which were tagged on his Facebook site.

One photo shows Lam with his hand on a woman’s clothed breast, while the other shows a man and a woman tugging at Lam’s underwear while his pants are around his thighs.

“An issue was made regarding inappropriate material on my private Facebook page. I regret this material and the associated comments that have now become public,” Lam said in a prepared statement Sunday. “I do not want this to be a distraction in the election campaign and have advised the party that I am stepping down.”

McNeil brought the photos to the media’s attention early Sunday after she was alerted to them.

“I found them very offensive,” she said. “I found them inappropriate and very poor judgment.”

McNeil says the photos bring into question Lam’s appropriateness as a candidate. She says voters want candidates with good judgment skills.

“I think if people are running for political office they should check to see what’s on their Facebook. It does show a little bit of poor judgment but not enough to be turfed as a candidate,” counters Ron Stipp, a regional representative with the Canadian Labour Congress and a gay man.

A premier who drives drunk — that’s a lapse in judgment, says Stipp. 

But these photos say “nothing about Ray’s ability to be a member of the legislative assembly,” Stipp says.

“I don’t think these photos are a big deal at all,” Stipp says. They were taken “at a Pride party where people are having fun. It’s a bit odd that this would cause somebody to resign.”

Comments online responding to the Globe and Mail’s coverage of the story Apr 19 were mixed. Some asked what all the fuss was about (“Seriously BC… how does taking a ‘racy’ pic with some friends and posting it on what is supposed to be a closed community disqualify one from office? I would say there are a few dozen qualities I’d look first before worrying about this sort of thing. Lighten up,” wrote one).

Others found the photos offensive.

“Whatever happened [to] out of the closet homosexuals having some shame?” one person posted. “It seems like if you’re not in the closet you have to let the world know your sexual preference with ridiculous behaviour.”

“I’m sure they’re very embarrassed about this,” McNeil says of the NDP.

Lam offered his apologies to James and the party. He declined to comment further at this time.

James could not be reached for comment.

NDP spokesperson Brian Gardiner says it’s unfortunate Lam had to step down. “Obviously, it’s difficult for him,” he says.

NDP president Jeff Fox says the party will nominate a new Vancouver-False Creek candidate in the next few days.

This was Lam’s first run for public office after an unsuccessful bid for a Vision Vancouver nomination to run for city council last November.

Lam was acclaimed to be the New Democrat candidate for the provincial riding last month.

The Vancouver-False Creek riding was created when the old Vancouver-Burrard riding was divided in a constituency re-organization this year.

The other new riding is Vancouver-West End where Vancouver-Burrard NDP incumbent Spencer Herbert is running against Liberal Laura McDiarmid.

Lam had hoped to focus on cuts to social services, not just in his own riding but across the province this election. He says the cuts have impacted gay organizations such as Youthquest, which folded a few years ago.

Lam is also concerned about the development of the northeast section of False Creek, between BC Place and Science World which, he says, needs more community input.

— With files from Robin Perelle