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Police uniforms banned from Vancouver pride parade

2017 parade allowed 20 per cent of officers to wear uniforms

A man jokes with a police officer before the start of the Vancouver Pride Parade in Vancouver on July 31, 2011.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press / Metro Web Upload

A man jokes with a police officer before the start of the Vancouver Pride Parade in Vancouver on July 31, 2011.

Vancouver police officers participating in next year’s pride parade will not be allowed to wear uniforms or bring weapons.

One-in-five officers were allowed to wear uniforms in the 2017 parade but some LGBTQ groups said that new rule didn’t do enough to address their concerns. Several groups, including Rainbow refugee and Black Lives Matter, boycotted the 2017 parade. Vancouver police have participated in past parades in full uniform.

The Vancouver Pride Society’s decision to ban uniforms in 2018 but still allow police officers into the parade was an informed compromise, said its executive director.

“We want to honour the work that has been done in the past,” said Andrea Arnot, referring to the work the LGBTQ community had done to build bridges with Vancouver’s police.

“Our goal has never been to ban the police from the parade, we’ve been very clear about that. Our goal was to work with VPD to change how they participated so that everybody would feel comfortable.”

In open letters and on social media, queer people of colour, people in the trans community, and Indigenous two-spirited people have said uniformed police at pride parades are a source of trauma.

In summer 2017, Toronto police were banned completely from that city’s pride parade.

Soon after, Vancouver Pride Society made its decision to allow police, but not uniforms, in its parade. Police vehicles will not be allowed in the parade. It wasn’t a decision the board took lightly, said Arnot.

“It's been an ongoing process…it's not an abrupt or easily made decision.”

The board voted on the matter in September but did not make the information public until last wekeend, when its members had talked with all the groups and individuals who wrote open letters about the topic, Arnot explained.

Whether police will be allowed to wear branded clothing, like a VPD-marked T-shirt, is up for discussion, Arnot added.  

“We prefer that they were wearing City of Vancouver T-shirts but we still need to clarify and have that discussion.”

The Vancouver Police Department did not respond to Metro’s request for comment by deadline.

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