Council members rose on the floor of the chamber on Wednesday to commend the organizers of WorldPride. Well, not all of council members: as his colleagues stood and applauded city staffers and volunteers who worked on the hugely successful LGBTQ event, Mayor Rob Ford declined to get up, and instead sat silent in his chair.
The mayor's behaviour has renewed accusations that the leader of one of the most inclusive cities in the world is homophobic.
As he headed back to the council chamber after the lunch break, reporters asked Ford why he refused to stand. He wouldn't answer, and only after being pressed on the issue did he assert that he is not homophobic.
"You guys have asked me this question for 14 years, and you know the answer," Ford said. "I'm not homophobic."
The mayor's denial won't do much for those who believe the mayor has only become more open about his anti-gay feelings as the term has gone on. Ford has always caught flack for refusing to attend the annual Pride parade, but he further enraged LGBTQ residents and their allies in February when he tried to take down a Pride flag from outside City Hall. Just before he left for rehab in April, he was recorded saying he could no longer vote for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives because they had supported flying the flag at the legislature.
In several interviews last week after he returned from his leave of absence, he blamed those homophobic remarks on what he termed his addiction "disease."
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, council's only openly gay member, said she wasn't surprised that Ford refused to stand for the ovation.
"He couldn't even bother to stand up, he couldn't even fake it. Which just tells you this is the kind of guy he is," said Wong-Tam. "He has done everything he can to destroy his relationship with the LGBTQ community and I think he's done so quite effectively."