Pride Toronto voted at its annual general meeting on Tuesday in favour of the full list of demands made by Black Lives Matter (BLM) Toronto last summer after a sit-in at its parade.
One of the controversial demands was the banning of Toronto Police from marching and participating in the Pride parade and other Pride-related events.
A majority of Pride Toronto members voted in favour of the demands, including agreeing to hire more people from vulnerable communities and providing more funding for events aimed at minority groups.
However, some members say that while most of the demands were warranted, completely excluding the police was not right.
Outgoing Pride co-chair Aaron GlynWilliams recalled that Pride Toronto had agreed to the demand that the police should not have floats in the parade.
But he said that “the demands have shifted somewhat and went away from reviewing the role of Toronto police to a request to an outright ban.”
“I’m no friend of the police but I believe we do not ban anyone from Pride,” LGBTQ community member James Dubro said.
Last summer BLM Toronto staged a sit-in at the Pride Toronto parade, bringing it to a halt for about half an hour.
BLM Toronto was given the status of Honoured Group for the parade.It did not give Pride Toronto advance notice of its planned sit-in.
Alexandra Williams, a co-founder of BLM Toronto,had said they held the sit-in because they wanted to hold Pride Toronto accountable for “anti-blackness.”
“We are not taking any space away from any folks. When we talk about homophobia, transphobia, we go through that too … It should be a cohesive unit, not one against the other. Anti-blackness needs to be addressed and they can be addressed at the same time, in the same spaces,” Williams pointed out.
The parade didn’t re-start until after Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a document agreeing to the group’s demands.
The document stated as follows:
- Commit to BQY‘s (Black Queer Youth) continued space (including stageltents), funding, and logistical support.
- Sail-determination for all community spaces, allowing community full control over hiring, content, and structure of their stages.
- Full and adequate funding for community stages, including logistical, technical, and personnel support.
- Double funding for Blockorama + ASL interpretation & headliner funding
- Reinstate and make a commitment to increase community stages/spaces (including the reinstatement of the South Asian stage).
- A commitment to increase representation amongst Pride Toronto stafﬁng/hiring, prioritizing Black trans women, Black queer people, indigenous folk, and others from vulnerable communities.
- A commitment to more Black deaf & hearing ASL interpreters for the Festival.
- Removal of police floats/booths in all Pride maches/parades/community spaces,
- A public townhall, organized in conjunction with groups from marginalized communities, including, but not limited to, Black Lives Matter- Toronto, Blackness Yes, and BQY to be held six months from today. Pride Toronto will present an update and action plan on the aforementioned demands.