Halton Regional Police are investigating a string of vandalism where homophobic slurs are written on signs and on houses displaying the Pride flag.
Barbara Smith said she put her sign up on the front lawn of her Burlington, Ont., home at the beginning of June to recognize Pride month, but on June 16, she came home see her Pride sign was removed from her property.
“Someone had left a note on my doorstep that this was horrible that someone had vandalized the sign and that they left it on the porch,” she said, adding she found out the same thing had happened to a nearby neighbor.
“I just thought it was so disrespectful … I called the police right away.”
Halton Regional Police said they received a similar report from a homeowner in Oakville the same day.
“Homophobic language was spray painted on the home of somebody who was flying Pride flags at their house,” said Const. Ryan Anderson.
“It’s being investigated as a hate-motivated crime — that crime being mischief — because this is damage to property. … It’s vandalism but it’s more than that, especially during this month.”
A report released by the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics that looks at police-reported hate crimes found 10 per cent of all police-reported incidents targeted people for their sexual orientation. The report also shows that of those crimes, 81 per cent specifically targeted gay and lesbian people, two per cent targeted bisexual people, nine per cent targeted another sexual orientation, and seven per cent targeted individuals with an unknown sexual orientation.
“It is very disconcerting to see this kind of hostility and vandalism and hatred being spewed during a month that is so significant to the 2SLGBTQI community,” said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada.
“It’s very important that these incidents are fully investigated and uncovered by police. It’s the only way we can gain confidence in our community to feel safe and we need the type of support these allies are giving us.”
Smith has replaced the vandalized sign and has it displayed out front of her home once again.
“Every June, I’m going to put out a sign,” she said. “We should be more accepting of people in our society.”
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