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Toronto Pride lifts two-year ban, allows police officers to march in uniform

Toronto Pride lifts two-year ban, allows police officers to march in uniform

Two women holding hands at Pride, one of them is wearing a police uniform.

Toronto Pride will finally allow police officers to march in the parade wearing their uniforms.

After a two-year ban from the festivities, the organizers have reached a decision following consultations with both the police and community members.

Broken trust

The choice to exclude police officers in uniform form the parade was a difficult one for Toronto Pride.

Executive director Olivia Nuamah motivated the decision by saying that the community lost trust in the police. The relationship got sour due to the police’s handling of tragic LGBTI cases over the past two years.

Nuamah singled out the death of transgender woman Alloura Wells, whose body was found four months after her disappearance in 2017.

Moreover, she mentioned serial killer Bruce McArthur. Police charged him with eight counts of first-degree murder in 2018, but only long after dismissing the idea of a serial killer targeting gay men.

‘We had to have conversations inside the community about what that meant for us, about what community safety means in relation to our relationship with police, and that takes as long as it takes,’ she told at the press conference on Tuesday 16 October.

‘Right now, this is the most comfortable thing for Pride Toronto.’

The importance of inclusion

Police chief Mark Saunders said the decision is the beginning of a longer journey.

‘The importance of inclusion is what defines community safety,’ he said.

He furthermore added: ‘Marching in uniform in Pride parade is an important event, not just to show our support for the LGBTI communities, but also to the proud members of the Toronto Police Service. It really means a lot to us as an organization.’

Is this rainbow capitalism?

However, some are highlighting how marching with uniformed police officers can be a distressful experience for many LGBTIs.

Furthermore, while some are defending the decision as Pride needs funding, others want to put an end to ‘rainbow capitalism’.

One user suggested it might be time ‘to wrap up the whole project’.

‘If Pride Toronto can’t exist without its corporate and political funding, then it’s time to wrap up the whole project and start anew with community organizing, small-scale events, and meaningful activism,’ the commenter also wrote.

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