Pride Toronto is opening the door to police participation in next year’s parade after uniformed officers were excluded from the past two parades.
In an open letter released Tuesday, Pride Toronto said when the police service submits an application to participate in this year’s event, organizers will review it and provided that the application meets the parade entry rules, Toronto police will be granted a marching permit.
“For many members of our communities, this decision will feel premature; we may not all see the same signs of a mending relationship,” Pride Toronto said in the written statement.
“Indeed, some of the change is subtle and some just getting underway. We are heartened that the seeds are being planted, but we acknowledge and respect those who will find this decision a difficult one.”
Tension between the police service and the LGBTQ community began to mount at the 2016 parade, when Black Lives Matter Toronto called on uniformed officers to be excluded from the parade. The group said that the presence of officers at the parade made members of the community feel unsafe.
In 2017, it was the first time in 17 years that Toronto police did not march in the parade in uniform.
This past April, Pride Toronto asked the police service to withdraw their 2018 Pride Parade application in the wake of the investigation into Bruce McArthur, who has now been charged with the murders of several missing men with ties to the city’s LGBTQ community.
“We asked for time to mourn and to discover how to heal. The police honored our request, and the parade became an important moment in our collective expression of resilience and our individual expressions of heartache,” Pride Toronto added.
“Even more importantly, we also asked the Toronto Police to embark on a process of increased co-operation and collaborative action with the city’s LGBT2Q+ organizations. We sought, and continue to seek, institutional change that takes time and openness to achieve.”
Members of Pride Toronto are expected to speak about the recent decision at a news conference later this morning.