Loading articles...

Council votes against pulling Pride funding

Last Updated May 26, 2017 at 7:49 pm EDT

City council has voted against pulling $260,000 in funding for this summer’s Pride parade.

Coun. John Campbell put the motion forward, arguing that the city shouldn’t throw financial support behind an event that has banned uniformed officers from participating.

His motion was rejected 17-27.

“I’m disappointed for the Toronto Police Service, the gay and lesbian police officers that normally participate in this parade that wanted to be a part of the celebration and that had been told that they’re not welcome,” Campbell said.

“I’m a little perplexed that council didn’t see it that way.”

Pride Toronto co-chair Alica Hall said there was a “rhetoric of homophobia” underlying the day-long debate at council, but the organization is obviously pleased with the result.

“We’re very excited,” she said. “This grant is an important part of how Pride puts on our festival. It’s an important testament to the cultural and economic impact that we have in the city. And so we’re very excited and very pleased with the support of council.”

Mayor John Tory voted against the motion. Earlier in the week he said pulling the money would cause more harm than good.

“I will support maintaining our full funding for Pride 2017. Pride is an important city event, and one that must reflect the diversity and vibrancy of our city,” Tory said.

Pastor and gay rights advocate Brent Hawkes said Pride Toronto has faced a double standard when it comes to obtaining funding from the city.

“I think that the hurtful part is when you have an organization that has met every requirement, every rule, every regulation that the city has asked of it, and still city councillors want to question its funding,” he told reporters after the vote.

“And if this was a one-off situation, then that would be easier to handle. But when you see this happening year after year after year, that Pride has been the organization consistently … that’s held to a different standard, whose funding is always questioned, and the community always has to deal with, ‘Will we get the funding or not?’ … We have to ask the question: why is it Pride?”

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 group held a sit-in partway 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.

Pride’s newly named director, Olivia Nuamah, later clarified that police were welcome in the parade as long as they weren’t in uniform.

Campbell said the problem could have been solved by allowing a small contingent of bicycle cops to participate in the parade.

“My intention was always to highlight the notion that when we are giving money, there are conditions attached to the giving of money and are certain expectations of outcomes, and Pride didn’t meet those for me,” he said.

“Evidently, the other councillors feel that giving money no strings attached is fine with them.”