Toronto’s LGBTQ cops want the city to pull Pride funding

Pride banned uniformed police officers from marching in pride last year, sparking debate about funding the parade.

by Tamara Khandaker
Apr 19 2017, 5:04pm

Members of the Toronto Police Service dance to the Village People's song YMCA during the annual Pride Parade at Dundas and Yonge Streets in Toronto on Sunday, July 3, 2016.

A group of LGBTQ officers in Toronto’s police union has called on the city to take away its annual grant to Canada’s largest Pride parade after the festival banned police floats earlier this year.

In an open letter to Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack — which he delivered to Mayor John Tory and city council — the committee wrote that as city employees, they’d “feel completely devalued and unsupported by [their] employer should they fund this event at this time.”

In January, Pride Toronto adopted a list of demands issued by Black Lives Matters’ Toronto chapter, made initially at the Pride Parade last summer, which included the participation of police floats and cops in uniform. In February, police chief Mark Saunders announced that police would not be marching.

“How can we possibly feel appreciated by our employer while they sponsor an event that its own employees have been disinvited from participating in as full, equal, and active participants in their role as its employees,” reads the letter. “We can think of no examples in Canada where either a public or private employers has been a lead sponsor for an event their employers were asked not to participate in.”

Toronto City Councillor John Campbell made a similar appeal last month, saying several other councillors agreed that the parade’s funding request, expected this month, should be denied until the parade returns to its “core principles of equity and inclusivity.”

“It doesn’t sit right with me and with other councillors that we issue this grant in view of the position that they’ve taken with respect to the police force,” he told the Canadian Press. “We need a certain level of equity and inclusivity attached to the issuance of grants for organizations.”

Black Lives Matter Toronto, which presented the demands during a sit-in at the parade last summer, has made it clear on numerous occasions that police officers would still be welcome to march, so long as they weren’t in uniform or on official floats.