A longtime Pride Toronto member wants the organization to ban military and prison participation at pride and get rid of corporate floats in the 2020 parade.
Queer activist Lisa Amin presented four resolutions, two of which she said would make pride safer for all community members if approved, at the Pride Toronto special general meeting at Ryerson on Monday night.
Amin told the meeting of about 100 attendees that the organization needs to outright prohibit the appearance and participation of uniformed military members and correctional institutions from the event.
“Pride is safer for some people than for others,” she said. “What we’re looking to do is increase the safety and welcomeness factor.”
Pride Toronto barred uniformed police officers from participating in the event in 2017 – one year after Black Lives Matter abruptly halted the march to demand officers be banned from the annual parade, citing racial profiling.
Earlier this year, the membership voted to keep uniformed officers out of the parade indefinitely.
“The line between police and prison is a continuum,” said Amin, a human rights lawyer.
Amin said the organization has previously discussed concerns of anti-black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, racial profiling and the dismissal of trans women in conversations about police involvement in pride. She said those concerns also need to be addressed when it comes to the military and prison presence at pride.
Racialized and trans attendees have voiced safety concerns, she said.
Listen to queer activist Lisa Amin talk about why she thinks now is the right time to start a discussion about the military and prison presence at pride
Amin said Pride Toronto needs to bar these groups and recognize issues ranging from the overrepresentation of certain groups in prison to trans women being sent to the wrong jails in the city.
According to a report published by the Ontario Human Rights Commission in December 2018, a black person in Toronto is almost 20 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by police.
Mike Dasilva, a fourth-year Ryerson student who attended the Pride Toronto meeting to support his friend who is a member, said he agreed with Amin’s resolutions.
“They shouldn’t be allowed in uniform.”
Mike Dasilva, a Ryerson student who attended the meeting
“They shouldn’t be allowed in uniform,” Dasilva said about police, military and corrections officers at pride.
The other motions Amin presented included requiring the organization to publish its resolutions on its website and banning corporate floats from the parade.
LGBTQ2 attendees, allies and corporate floats decked out in colours of the rainbow march down Yonge Street for the hours-long parade every year.
Amin said corporations were at the “leading end” of social change when they first got involved because their participation was symbolic of their support for LGBTQ2 employees. But, Amin said, that is now required by law and no longer as celebratory as it once was.
“It’s of no value to have the Captain Morgan float lag on by down Yonge Street as everybody’s dying of heat exhaustion as we’re in the fourth hour of a parade that’s become, frankly, kind of boring,” she said.
She suggested the organization include corporations in more creative ways in the future, such as replacing the Captain Morgan float with a piña colada kiosk run by the rum brand on Church Street.
Listen to queer activist Lisa Amin defend her resolution to get rid of corporate floats in the pride parade
The resolutions will be reviewed by the board, which is made up of seven members, including five interim board members who were voted in during the April 1 meeting. The membership is expected to vote on the motions at the fall annual general meeting.
Olivia Nuamah, executive director for Pride Toronto, declined to comment on Amin’s resolutions.
She told the Ryersonian the organization is “more excited than we have ever been before” about this year’s event.
“We’ve received a lot of support across corporate, non-profit and government sectors,” Nuamah said.
Pride Toronto 2019 takes place June 21 to 23.