A Nova Scotia mayor has refused to fly the gay pride flag for a pride event, saying it promotes a lifestyle that conflicts with his religious views -- and most of the town's council backed him.

Members voted 6-1 Friday against a request from a local pride group to fly the rainbow-coloured flag at Truro's town hall next week.

And the mayor, Bill Mills, made it clear his decision was motivated by his Christian beliefs.

"There are writings in the book of Romans chapter one, to name a few -- basically I have to go with that conviction, and I know it's not a popular one," Mills said.

The mayor insisted, as a Christian, he has a right to his opinions, and he stands behind his decision.

But the Northern AIDS Connection Society, based in Truro, said the ruling raises another type of flag -- a sign of homophobia in a government that should be secular.

"It's about having a welcoming community...and having people feel comfortable where they live," Bonnie Joldersma, a member of the society, said.

And members of the True Gay Pride Coalition in the town of over 12,000 people said the rejection made them feel ostracized and unwelcome.

"It makes me wonder how I am accepted in the community and how my family is accepted in the community," Lynn MacKinnon said.

Residents also condemned the town council's decision. One coffee shop owner worried the flag's rejection would give Truro a bad name.

"I just hope it doesn't give us a black eye to the rest of the world," Ray Merriam said.

Customers at the local business were appalled by the mayor's views, and said the decision let many constituents down.

"I think they have a right to fly that flag. I think the mayor was quite wrong in his comments," Mary Baird said.

"Obviously, Mayor Mills doesn't just represent (certain) Christians -- there are many different people in this community of other faiths and spiritualities," said Scott Christensen.

Although Truro's town hall won't be showing its pride, the cloudy decision has a rainbow lining for advocates -- the county agreed to raise the flag.

The County of Colchester building, in Truro, approved a similar request from the community. Mike Smith, the county's mayor, said the flag will fly high despite the ban at town hall.

He also said council's ban makes the whole town look discriminatory and backward-thinking.

"It makes us look bad. These conversations were going on 15 to 20 years ago -- I thought we were way past worrying about the flying of pride flags or gay rights parades."

With a report from CTV's Nicolle Carlin