B.C. Liberal Party will not be marching at Vancouver Pride parade

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The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) said the B.C. Liberal government will be barred from participating in the Vancouver Pride parade.

After refusing to sign a pledge calling for new legislation to protect the rights of transgender people, the VPS deemed the party unfit to take part in the parade.

“The Pride movement started as a protest march to demand our rights as full and equal citizens, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity,” said VPS President Tim Richards.

“If they refuse to stand up for LGBTQ2+ rights, they have no place at the Parade,” Parade Coordinator Bry Leckie added.

The West End B.C. Liberals association had signed the pledge and in hopes of taking part in the parade — which will be happening in its riding. VPS accepted their application but then rejected it shortly after, due to the pledge’s signing guidelines. They then issued a statement to clear confusion on who can sign the form.

The guidelines state that:

  • A member of the political party’s board of directors or equivalent governing body must sign the pledge on behalf of the party, as opposed to a riding association, electoral district, or equivalent body.
  • Any elected official or candidate for election must also sign the pledge to participate in the Parade.

The pledge is a one-page document that supports the passage of new provincial and federal legislation that protects transgender and gender-variant Canadians from discrimination. It is also a part of the Trans Equality Now campaign that VPS launched two months ago.

The Trans Equity Now pledge wants to see explicit reference to Gender Identity under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the British Columbia Human Rights Code.

Executive director for the B.C. Liberals, Laura Miller, said that it is not in the party’s view to add explicit language to the code.

“It’s created a bit of a challenge because for the first time in four years we won’t be marching in the parade,” said Miller.

“The most dissapointing thing, is that for any transgender and gender-variant person watching this from afar, they get the impression that they aren’t protected,” she said.

Miller said she firmly believes that transgender and gender-variant protection rights against discrimination are already included in the B.C. Human Rights Code under the section regarding sex.

Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who previously introduced a bill to amend the B.C. Human Rights Code four times, said he is disappointed the B.C. Liberals are not changing their view on this.

“I wanted the B.C. liberals and the Premier to be in the parade, but only if they were actually going to walk the talk,” he said.

The bill he presented to the provincial government called to explicitly add gender identity and expression to the list of protections. Herbert has already signed the pledge, and said that, “Every MLA that is going to be marching in the parade will be signing the pledge.”

In an interview with Vancity Buzz, VPS Vice-President Chrissy Taylor explained the need for changes in both the provincial and federal bills, and said that B.C. is falling behind on these issues compared to other provinces.

“The bill covers sex, and sex and gender identity are very different things. Right now, for trans people, they wouldn’t be able to claim any discrimination based on their gender identity or expression,” said Taylor.

Currently, seven provinces and territories explicitly recognize gender identity and expression: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories.

The VPS said it will continue to encourages the B.C. Liberals to sign the pledge and support the bill. The city’s pride parade is scheduled for Aug. 2.

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Behdad Mahichi is currently an Editorial Assistant at Vancity Buzz and a journalism student at Ryerson University. He writes about anything from entertainment and politics to his misfortunately extreme caffeine addiction.
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