Pride parade Toronto police

Toronto police won't be marching in this year's Pride Parade

Toronto police are officially abandoning their bid to march in this year's Pride Parade after being asked to stay away by prominent members of the LGBTQ2S community.

Police Chief Mark Saunders announced the news in a press release early Tuesday afternoon, saying that he "had hoped to see our civilians and uniformed officers invited back to march in the 2018 Pride Parade."

"That being said, I am conscious of the need to avoid any setback that might undermine the principle objective of coming together and restoring confidence," he said, referring to rising tensions between police and Toronto's gay community.

"In light of the concerns expressed in yesterday’s letter to me, I will be withdrawing the application we have made to the organizing committee of the Pride Parade."

The letter Saunders referenced in his release was published Monday evening on Pride Toronto's social media accounts.

It was co-signed by The 519, The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, and Sherbourne Health Centre.

These groups expressed concern over the impact that police could have on vulnerable community members who already feel stigmatized by police.

Of particular issue is how police handled (and are still handling) the investigation into Bruce McArthur, an alleged serial killed who targeted gay men in the Church and Wellesley area.

"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 and I am committed thoroughly to building a better, stronger relationship between us," said Saunders in response to the letter today.

"Much more work is needed, of course. But hopefully this moment moves us forward in an important way."

Saunders says that he hopes to see members of the police force, some of who are both cops and gay, accepted and welcomed into the Parade next year.

"The Toronto Police Service will work hard over the course of the next year toward that end," he said, "and, ideally, the 2019 Pride Parade will offer an opportunity to demonstrate that progression."

Lead photo by

Irina No


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