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After cop ban, Pride Toronto may also ban military and corporate floats

After cop ban, Pride Toronto may also ban military and corporate floats

Marchers at Pride Toronto in 2016

After banning police from marching in uniform, members of Pride Toronto are considering banning other groups from participating in its annual festivities and Pride marches.

The move comes after Pride members narrowly voted in January to implement a police ban – a decision that divided many in the community.

Pride Toronto held a ‘Special General Meeting’ Monday evening at Ryerson University.

Participation of military and prisons questioned

Toronto lawyer and Pride member, Lisa Amin drafted the motions calling for further exclusions.

Amin submitted four motions. The first calls for a ban on military participation at Pride Toronto.

The motion states: ‘Military interventions worldwide disproportionately target, maim, and kill racialized people … this is not coincidence but rather is a function of and is maintained by legacies of white supremacy and imperialist projects … the Canadian military is no exception.’

It says queer and trans people, ‘have stated that the presence of military at Pride Toronto events is actually triggering and makes them feel unsafe.’

A second motion makes similar arguments against allowing the ‘prison-industrial complex’ to participate. It points out how often queer and trans people have been criminalized and then persecuted within the prison system.

Police at Toronto Pride | Photo: David Hudson
Police at Toronto Pride in 2016 | Photo: David Hudson

Drop corporate floats from an already lengthy parade

A third motion calls for the banning of corporate floats on the Pride Toronto parade.

‘There are better ways for corporations to show us their support … the Sunday parade is too long and as a result is a barrier to participation … a major reason for this is the proliferation of corporate floats.’

Finally, a fourth motion called for Pride Toronto to post all resolutions it adopts on its website, thus further enhancing transparency.

Voting in new interim board members took up the bulk of Monday evening’s meeting. However, Amin also presented her motions. The board will now bring these back to a future members meeting for voting.

Amin later told Gay Star News she feels confident her motions will be approved. However, she acknowledges they may not be voted upon until later in the year. If so, they will not impact the 2019 festival in June.

‘I am not here to shrink the party or kill the vibe’

The vote to ban police in uniform proved controversial. It passed by 163-161 votes. A similar ban took effect during the 2017 festival. It was lifted in 2018 before returning in 2019.

Any decision to also ban members of the military from participating may also be met with mixed reaction.

One Toronto-based veteran of the Canadian army, who wished to remain anonymous, told Gay Star News: ‘I think it’s really stupid they would do that. There are many people in the LGBT community serving in the military – when I was there I worked alongside two lesbian sisters, a gay clerk and officer. To discriminate against them is wrong.’

At Monday’s meeting, some raised concerns that any move to ban corporate floats might impact upon Pride’s finances. The festival costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to stage each year.

Amin was keen to point out she didn’t wish to see the festival take any hit to its finances.

‘The corporate floats motion has been a real conversation-starter. I want to make it clear that I am not here to shrink the party or kill the vibe. I live for the party and love the million-person vibe.

‘My motion is not nearly as radical as some people may have been led to believe. My corporate floats motion does not call for a ban on corporations. At all. I think that needs to be stated very clearly.

Times for change

‘When corporate floats first entered the parade, they were representing those corporations as a safe place to do business, or work, if one was gay,’ says Amin. ‘These were especially progressive in the early years that they appeared in the parade.

‘Now, we have achieved massive socio-legal strides and, especially in Toronto, a mainstreaming of LGBT issues. We should be revisiting the notion that taking up space via a corporate float is actually meaningful to our queer and trans communities.

‘There simply must be better ways for corporations to show they support us and understand our needs.’

‘I love Pride Toronto and want it to succeed’

She said corporates could think of more creative ways to be part of Pride other than floats on the parade.

‘We can be brave enough to say we want to renew our vows with even our biggest corporate sponsors. It isn’t a repudiation of the relationship by any means. It is a recognition that there is room for change, and that change can be great. I bet the corporations wouldn’t mind a little more opportunity to get creative, too.’

‘I would never suggest something that would tank the finances: I love Pride and I want it to succeed.’

Gay Star News has contacted Pride Toronto for comment.

See also

Pride Toronto bans uniformed police from 2019 festival

19 pictures that show why Pride Toronto was one of the coolest festivals of the year