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Pride Toronto members vote to keep uniformed police officers out of parade

TORONTO — Members of Pride Toronto have voted against allowing the city’s uniformed police officers from participating in this year’s parade.

The vote comes about three months after the organization lifted a ban on uniformed officers taking part in the annual event, saying the force was welcome to apply to be a part of this summer’s festivities.

But the decision to keep them out was made by a margin of 163-161 on Tuesday night.

The relationship between Pride Toronto and city police has been tense for the past two years.

Uniformed officers were first banned from the parade in 2017 over concerns of racial profiling, and again in 2018 over criticism the force had not taken the disappearances of several men missing from the city’s gay village seriously.

In a statement Tuesday, Toronto police say they “remain committed to a maintaining a dialogue with Pride Toronto as well as the larger LGBTQS community to deliver policing services that are inclusive and responsive to the needs of the community regardless of the outcome of one particular vote or event.”

Black Lives Matter abruptly halted the Pride Parade march in 2016 to present several demands, among them that uniformed police, their floats and cruisers be excluded. The group cited tensions between the force and black citizens arising from racial profiling as among the reasons for their demands.

Pride organizers agreed for the next two years to exclude uniformed officers on-duty from marching in the parade.

For this summer’s parade, organizers have also cited ongoing anger about perceived police inaction on a slew of disappearances from Toronto’s gay village as a reason police could not participate.

Bruce McArthur currently stands charged of eight counts of first-degree murder in those disappearances.

The community had long ago sounded the alarm on a suspected serial killer preying on men in the gay village.

The Canadian Press