It’s official: the City of Vancouver is ready to kick off this year’s Pride celebrations.
Members of the LGBT community, city officials, MLAs, and hundreds of people gathered together at the new Jim Deva Plaza to launch the event.
Mayor Gregor Robertson launched this week’s festivities during his proclamation speech.
“So this Pride Week, and the Pride Parade in particular really stands for a symbol of remarkable progress that we’ve made in our city towards securing acceptance and safety and equal rights for the people here in Vancouver.”
This year’s Pride week comes as legislators meet in a rare summer session that will include amending B.C.’s Human Rights Code to include protections for transgender people.
Both the governing Liberals and opposition NDP have agreed to work together to pass the legislation.
Attorney General Suzanne Anton, gathered with legislators to day to introduce legislation that will include “gender identity or expression” to the list of things covered by the code.
The Liberals were excluded from last year’s parade for refusing to sign the Vancouver Pride Society’s Trans Equality Now pledge which called for the creation of federal and provincial legislation explicitly protecting transgender people.
Police to march
Vancouver Police will take part in the parade, despite a call from the activist group Black Lives Matter for the force to stay away.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he has started a good dialogue with the group after the local chapter requested the city’s police department voluntarily withdraw from the parade earlier this month.
“My expectation is the police will be in the parade as they have been for two decades, and that there is really appropriate acknowledgement of the concerns of Black Lives Matter.”
Black Lives Matter says its members won’t take part in the parade.
Vancouver Police spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham says police will work with all interest groups to ensure their concerns are addressed, but the force plans to have a visible presence of officers both marching in and securing the parade.
However, it’s the first time in recent years the VPD’s armoured response vehicle will not be in the pride parade.