TDSB trustee Sam Sotiropoulos gets into ‘homosexist’ Twitter war

Participants hold a rainbow flag during "Queer Azadi Mumbai 2011" (Queer Freedom Mumbai 2011), a parade for gay and lesbian rights, in Mumbai January 29, 2011. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (Reuters)

A Toronto school board trustee says Canada is at the point of crisis when it comes to the way homosexuals treat heterosexuals and claimed on social media that the LGBT community was bullying straight people.

Sam Sotiropoulos took to Twitter and accused members of Toronto's gay and lesbian community of "homosexism" – or having a prejudice against straight men and women.

"One of the most divisive influences in Canada today is homosexims," Sotiropoulos wrote on Twitter. "It's disseminators are maliciously rabid." He went on to tell a Toronto radio station on Friday that Canada was at a "crisis point" when it comes to homosexism.

Sotiropoulos cited the online Urban Dictionary for a definition of the word on Thursday (Other online sources consider the word a synonym of homophobia.) By Friday, he had become embroiled in name-calling arguments with scores of Twitter users, including at least two city councillors.

Sotiropoulos's issue stems from Toronto's upcoming Pride parade - again a hot-button issue after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford refused to attend the event. While Ford has said he never attends and won't change who he is, his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, vocally complained about the "buck naked men" who participate in the parade.

Sotiropoulos says his opposition to Pride parade is that it allows public nudity, which is against the law. He told AM640 on Friday that he has an issue with the Toronto District School Board hosting a float in the same parade where public nudity is known to occur.

Coun. Gord Perks offered a reasonable debate in response, although the nature of social media left it buried by snide comments. Pride parades began as a form of political protest against LGBT oppression. Nudity was a form of legal protest.

Sotiropoulos was having none of that argument, as it seems to be more of that homosexism running rampant in Toronto. Sotiropoulos is free to take any tack he cares to. There is a reasonable argument to be made on the point, although starting a Twitter flame war is unlikely to begin a productive discourse.

Still, when it comes to public bouts of unprofessionalism, this isn't his first rodeo. Last year, Sotiropoulos refused to apologize to colleagues after accidentally sending a mass email that some of his "colleagues positively make my skin crawl." He declined to come to an event because "I would probably end up puking in someone’s face as I wouldn’t want to mess up your legendary kitchen."

Sotiropoulos's stance on homosexism comes at a tough time in Toronto politics. A protest over Rob Ford's opposition against a rainbow flag at city hall, in opposition to Russia's anti-homosexual stance, has entered its third day.

(To Sotiropoulos's credit, he disagreed with the mayor on that point. On Twitter, he said he supported the flag and opposed Russia's history of injustices against the gay community.)

Toronto's mayor has made a series of seemingly homophobic comments and some political pundits perceive his stance against the rainbow flag to be an attempt to stoke anti-gay sentiment in his support base ahead of the next election.

Pride Toronto executive director Kevin Beaulieu told Yahoo Canada News that Ford's comments and actions seemed to empower "homophobia and transphobia" in the city.

All of this makes for a tense debate on the issue of homophobia in politics and, apparently, homosexism in the streets of Toronto.