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After a two-year ban, police officers will be allowed to march in Toronto's upcoming Pride parade, granted they meet application rules.
In an open letter released on Tuesday morning, Pride Toronto said if the Toronto police service submits an application to participate in next year’s event, organizers will review it and provided that the application meets the parade entry rules, police will be granted a permit to participate and march.
“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 Toronto's LGBTQ community began when Black Lives Matter Toronto called on uniformed officers to be excluded from the parade when they staged a sit-in at the 2016 pride parade, halting the event for nearly 30 minutes.
The following year, police were denied the opportunity to participate in the Pride parade after organizers voted to ban uniformed officers and police floats.
This past April, Pride Toronto asked the police service to withdraw their 2018 Pride Parade application in the wake of the investigation into alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur. McArthur has been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in connection to 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.”