R. Jeanette Martin
LGBTQ identified members of the Toronto police union are calling on city councillors to end funding to Pride Toronto.
In a letter brought to city hall by Toronto Police Association (TPA) president Mike McCormack and read for the gathered press, members of the force's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Internal Support Network Executive Committee write that they would feel "completely de-valued and unsupported" by the city should council move forward with its annual grant of $260,000 to Pride.
"How can we possibly feel appreciated by our employer while they sponsor an event that its own employees have been disinvited from participating in as full, equal, and active participants in their role as city employees?" the letter asks.
The letter goes on to say that, "we look forward to a time when a relationship exists again that cultivates a more respectful police-community partnership in Pride."
The plea to end funding comes on the heels of a vote held in January at Pride's annual general meeting to adopt Black Lives Matter -Toronto's demands. Among them, banning police floats and police officers in uniform from participating in the parade.
Though the decision to support BLM -TO's request to eliminate uniformed police participation in Pride has become controversial, the request had been made with the aim to ensure racialized members of the LGBT community felt safe in a time when community relations between people of colour and Toronto police are particularly contentious.
BLM - TO co-founder Janaya Khan says in a statement to Vice, “we’ve made it very clear that we challenge the police floats and booths because [for] communities of colour, the presence of police makes people very unsafe and very uncomfortable."
Mayor John Tory told press outside of city hall today (Aprill 19) that he supports "the inclusion of police in pride on terms that can be sorted out."
“I don’t think today’s the day for a threat or ultimatum, or anything like that. I think it’s the day to continue those discussions and for me to encourage those groups to continue talking to each other and encourage those groups to find a resolution," he said.