An Ontario real estate agent who was rebuked by his agency after distributing newsletters promoting the value of traditional families says he is not homophobic and would be a “very good neighbour” to a gay man or woman.
Andrew Ciastek says he did not intend to offend anyone when he mailed a newsletter to residents of a Mississauga, Ont., neighbourhood that included a note entitled “traditional family is the best for the future of the kids.”
The article is said to have been taken from a Polish weekly newspaper called Sieci and pointed to research done by Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus. Regnerus suggests children of same-sex couples are more likely to be unemployed, depressed and get in trouble with the law.
“I put a few sentences from reputable polish (sic) weekly. I did not suggest in any way that this is my opinion," Ciastek wrote in an email to Yahoo! Canada News.
"If I only knew that some people were so much hurt by the statistics I included I would never do it and for that I really wanted to apologize."
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According to Xtra!, a gay and lesbian newspaper, Ciastek was fired on Friday, due to "poor judgment on his personal marketing."
A RE/MAX spokesperson said the agency was offended by the material Ciastek decided to distribute and requested he apologize to the community and donate to a pride organization.
“One of our agents saw fit to distribute the homophobic flyers… we are assuring the community the views expressed in no way represent the company,” Christine Martysiewicz told Yahoo! on Thursday.
Ciastek added that when he first moved to Canada more than 20 years ago, he lived in Toronto and participated in gay parades because they were colourful and he loved dancing. He said he was concerned about the impact that news coverage of his newsletter would have on his family.
"If I had a gay or lesbian neighbour I probably would be a very good neighbour and I would defend my neighbour if somebody wanted to offend him/her verbally or otherwise for the simple reason that everybody no matter what colour or gender has the right to love and be loved," he wrote.
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Ciastek sends frequent newsletters to the community that included details on agency as well as information about the real estate market. Three recent flyers forwarded to Yahoo! Canada included some topics that could be useful to homeowners, such as information about paint and how to maintain air conditioning units, as well as tips on insulating an attic.
Other, more general, details were also occasionally included, such as an article on trans-fats and the study about traditional families.
Reaction to Ciastek’s newsletter has been strong, with residents complaining to local police and the Human Rights Tribunal. A profile for Ciastek real estate agent ranking site currently contains 12 comments, all posted after the controversial letter came to light.
Most of them were anonymous, all of them were negative, and only one suggested the reviewer had previous dealings with Ciastek.
“I regret my business relationship with him but it’s too much work,” said the one anonymous user who claimed a prior connection. “I cannot believe he would put out a flyer slagging one group of potential buyers without thinking about the harm it would cause to my listing. Moreover some potential buyers would definitely choose another house vs. mine if they are already fence sitting. He doesn't represent my values. But I realized this too late.”