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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will not be allowed to march in uniform at a Canadian Pride parade this year.
Kamloops Pride, located in British Columbia, announced on social media that “varied and impassioned beliefs regarding RCMP participation in pride parades” led to the decision and that it was a “joint decision we came to with the RCMP.”
Kamloops Pride President Kristin McLaughlin said the decision was made due to the ongoing debate in both the United States and Canada about police participating in Pride events, and not due to any personal problems between the festival and authorities.
“Pride parades were born out of resistance to the criminalization of homosexuality,” McLaughlin said to CBC News. “There was tension between police and community members.”
RCMP Participation in 2nd Annual Kamloops Pride Parade pic.twitter.com/ovmM46qhbW
— Kamloops Pride (@Kamloops_Pride) June 28, 2018
McLaughlin added that she heard feedback from both sides of the debate before making her decision.
The RCMP did not march in uniform during Kamloops’ first Pride parade last August, but discussions had been ongoing since then about allowing uniformed officers in this year’s event. Cpl. Jodi Shelkie with Kamloops RCMP, liaison for Kamloops Pride, said that police will still provide security for the festival on August 26th.
“We really respect the decision that we shouldn’t be in [the parade], taking into account the controversy that’s happened in other communities across Canada with other police departments,” she said. “We support members and employees who want to participate in any pride event.”
Kamloops MP Cathy McLeod voiced her displeasure to the ruling over social media, writing: “I respect this is your event Kamloops Pride Society but admit am sorry to hear this.”
Kamloops Councillor Kathy Sinclair said that “these issues are mighty complex, and knee-jerk reactions on social media need to be tempered by humility and willingness to learn about the layered nuances behind the headlines.”
Kamloops joins Halifax, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary as cities that have banned uniformed police from marching in the parade.
Pride Toronto asked police to withdraw their application after distrust escalated this year when residents of the city’s Gay Village started to report the possibility of a serial killer targeting men in their community. Police apparently responded to the initial concerns with apathy, but following Pride’s decision they later arrested Bruce McArthur, who was charged with six of the murders.
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