While the world is watching the Sochi Winter Olympics to see the world’s best athletes, a lot of attention is also being paid to Russia’s treatment of the gay, lesbian and transgender communities.

As the opening ceremonies were happening, rainbow flags were going up outside city halls across the region.

Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside requested the pride flag to be flying outside Fredericton City Hall on Friday.

“We are giving a shout out to our gay and lesbian athletes in Sochi who have, I’m sure they’ve felt a little unwelcome and uncomfortable,” says Mayor Woodside. “So that’s how it is there, that’s not how it is here.”

By the afternoon, a pride flag was flying above Grand Parade in Halifax.

Moncton City Hall said they also plan to fly a pride flag during the Winter Games.

Before Friday’s opening ceremonies, rainbow flags were flying in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and St. John’s.

“I think it’s a great idea for the Olympics,” adds a Fredericton resident.

“I think it’s really wonderful Canada is supporting its athletes this way and also making a stance on gay rights,” says another.

Online there have been messages against the flag raising, with comments that say issues like this shouldn’t be taken on by cities and town.

Mayor Woodside says he may have agreed with that in the 90’s, when he refused to proclaim Gay Pride Week, but he has since participated in the Gay Pride Parade.

“A lot of things I thought 25 years ago I don’t feel the same about now,” explains Mayor Woodside. “I think that’s just the process you go through in maturing and growing up.”

Woodside says he thinks this is a way to show leadership to municipalities across the country because he believes this is the right thing to do.

The pride flag will fly for the duration of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. 

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore