The Toronto police force has officially withdrawn its application to march in the city’s Pride parade.
Pride Toronto and other local LGBT organizations, issued a statement requesting Toronto Police (TPS) withdraw its application to participate in the city’s 2018 parade.
Joint public statement about police participation in Pride Toronto's 2018 parade. Signed by The 519, Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, Sherbourne Health Centre, ASAAP, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) and Pride Toronto. #prideto pic.twitter.com/oG5XFyaD5B
— Pride Toronto (@PrideToronto) April 3, 2018
Following the statement, the next day (Wednesday 4 April) Police Chief Mark Saunders complied with the request.
Toronto Police ‘listening to community’s concerns
Saunders, who has faced criticism from community groups, said he did not wish to strain LGBTI relationships further.
‘My hope is that this move will be received as a concrete example of the fact that I am listening closely to the community’s concerns,’ he said.
‘I am committed thoroughly to building a better, stronger relationship between [police and the LGBT community.’
Gay serial killer
Toronto Police Service (TPS) applied last month to take part in this year’s parade, alongside other corporate and community groups.
However, there has been renewed criticism of TPS in the wake of the arrest of Bruce McArthur. The 66-year-old landscape gardener is charged with the murders of six men.
All the men disappeared in the last decade from Toronto’s gay village and are believed to have been gay or bisexual.
Despite many in the community fearing a serial killer, police failed to arrest McArthur until this year.
They are continuing to investigate whether he may be linked to other murders.
Pride Toronto asked LGBTI police who wished to take part in the 2017 festival to do so out of uniform, and to march with the City of Toronto contingent – rather than as a dedicated police group.