The Police Association of Ontario (PAO) said Ontario’s LGBTQ police officers and police services personnel are disappointed and angry one group co-opted the Toronto’s Pride event as a venue to disrupt a celebration of how far equality rights for those LGBTQ+2 members serving in the various provincial police services.
“As a strong police supporter of the LGBTQ+2 community and labour leader, I’m very proud of the numerous steps the Association has made over the past couple of decades towards advocating for more inclusion and a diversified workforce that truly reflects the communities we serve,” says PAO President Bruce Chapman. “Every day hundreds of police services personnel from the LGBTQ community put themselves in harm’s way to protect the people we serve, help those in distress get the help they need and volunteering for many neighbourhood events in every corner of the province – and it is disheartening to see some that want to disrupt recognizing how far we have come within the profession.”
Chapman said the parade should have focussed more on celebrating progress and remembering the lives lost in Orlando last month.
“For me I was extremely disappointed when the news coverage was about a group hijacking the Pride event and not about remembering the victims from Pulse Nightclub. I marched yesterday because it was important to remember Orlando and to support our LGBTQ+2 members and their friends and families who serve throughout the province.”
As a labour organization representing over 18,000 Ontario police services personnel, Executive DirectorStephen Reid says the PAO continues to advocate and promote diversity and inclusion at all levels in police services throughout the province.
“As a proud member of the community, it is not acceptable that one stroke of a pen erases years of advocating for equality and inclusion on the part of those LGBTQ+2 police officers, civilian personnel and the Association,” says Reid. “To the Pride Committee, it is not ‘reasonable’ these advocates are no longer welcome to participate in an event that was a significant part of their struggle. Many uniformed officers marched yesterday hand in hand with their partners – because of their fight!”
While the parade continued on with hundreds of police officers and police services personnel marching, Chapman said he heard so many positive comments throughout the walk from the public. He said so much more can be achieved when people continue to talk and politicians/Pride Committee members are leaders – not followers.
“It should be very concerning to the public that this group got a concession to have no police presence during an event where over a million people participate,” says Chapman. “We have to remind ourselves this community is still a target for hate crimes, something a private security firm is going to be ill-equipped to manage.” – CNW