Pride Toronto is asking the Toronto police to withdraw their application to participate in North America's largest gay pride parade, citing a strained relationship between the two sides that "cannot be mended through a parade."
The letter which was addressed to the “LGBTQ2S communities and the broader community of Toronto” was posted to Pride Toronto’s Twitter account late Monday evening and was signed by members of Pride Toronto, the 519, Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, Toronto People with AIDS Foundation and the Sherbourne Health Centre.
The relationship between Toronto police and city's LGBTQ community has become frayed over the recent handling of the deaths of Alloura Wells and Tess Richey, as well as the Bruce McArthur case, the man charged with with the deaths of seven men from Toronto's LGBTQ comminity.
"We request that the police withdraw their application to march in the 2018 Pride Parade," the letter says. "We believe that our resources are better invested in shared efforts that focus on deeper dialogue, collaborative action, and sustained institutional change. Only a significant commitment and meaningful action can start the critical work of making our communities safer."
“It is an incredibly complex and difficult time. The arrest of Bruce McArthur, the alleged serial killer, has added a new poignancy and a new pain to the fears that sit at the heart of anyone who lives a life of difference,” the letter read.
“At the end of June, we will come together as we have for decades and we will be seen. We will rally and rise, but it will be with heavy hearts as we have not yet begun to grapple with our anger, shock, and grief.”
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
Last month, Toronto police formally applied to have officers in uniform march in this year's parade. Police were not allowed to attend the parade in uniform, or with weapons or cruisers, in 2017. Pride Toronto also banned police floats from last year's annual pride parade.
The group signing the open letter added that the two groups need to work together to regain trust and allow members of the LGBTQ community to feel safe.
“That will not be accomplished in one day. The relationship cannot be mended through a parade,” the letter said.
“Marching won’t contribute towards solving these issues — they are beyond the reach of symbolic gestures.”
The 38th annual Toronto Pride Parade is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 24.