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Pride Toronto says police welcome without ‘uniform, weapons or vehicles’

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, May 8th, 2017

police-pride

Members of the Toronto Police Service dance to the Village People’s song “YMCA” during the annual Pride Parade at Yonge and Dundas streets in Toronto on July 3, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Hudson

Pride Toronto officials have further clarified their position when it comes to police officers marching in this year’s parade.

In a statement issued Sunday night, executive director Olivia Nuamah says police are not banned from the event, adding LGBTQ+ officers and their allies can participate provided they don’t bring their “uniform, weapons or vehicles.”

“We welcome and encourage their participation to add to Pride this year as members of our community,” read the brief statement. “LGBTQ+ police officers and their allies can march in the Parade with community groups, with the City of Toronto, or even create their own group.”

Nuamah added the Toronto Police Service has been involved in the festival planning to ensure the event and weekend are “secure and successful.”

Last month, the union representing Toronto’s police officers delivered a letter on behalf of a committee representing LGBTQ officers in the force asking Mayor John Tory to cut the $260,000 grant for the parade.

The committee said officers would feel completely devalued and unsupported by the city if the funding continued.

“When any city employee, regardless of their job function, is disinvited from an event hosted in the city of Toronto, we feel it is simply a conflict of interest and unacceptable that the City of Toronto remain a sponsor,” the letter read in part.

“We can think of no example in Canada where either a public or private employer has been a lead sponsor for an event their employees were asked not to participate in.”

Nuamah plans to appear before the Economic Development Committee on Monday to talk about continued city funding of the Pride parade.

In January, Pride Toronto adopted a list of demands issued by the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter, including banning police floats from the parade.

Members of the anti-racism group held a sit-in part way through the parade last July, stopping it from moving forward for about a half hour, until Pride organizers signed the list of demands.

Black Lives Matter said it opposed police presence in the parade because it could discourage marginalized communities from participating.

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