Statement on police participation in the 2017 Capital Pride festival

For Immediate Release

Friends,

As Pride Month comes to a close in many parts of the country, in Ottawa, the staff and volunteers of Capital Pride are going full steam with preparations for our city’s festival in August. It is also a time to reflect on the feedback we have received from our consultations with stakeholders and LGBTQ2 community members in the last several months.

Our city is evolving and growing and so too must Pride – a unique festival with as rich a cultural and political history as the people of Ottawa’s LGBTQ2 community. Capital Pride’s new organization and return to Bank Street in 2015 is representative of this shift, as is our community’s growing diversity.
Inclusion. Accessibility. Equity. These are just some of the most important and powerful principles that were raised in our consultations. While recognizing the hard work and advocacy in advancing LGBTQ2 rights over the last several decades, it is clear that social justice remains top of mind for many of us in Ottawa’s LGBTQ2 community, including Capital Pride.

Achievements like equal marriage, changes to public pensions, and most recently, the Royal Assent of Bill C-16, which adds gender identity as grounds for prohibiting discrimination in the Human Rights Act, do not automatically create social change. Many LGBTQ2 Canadians, particularly people of colour, people with disabilities, two-spirited people and members of the trans community still experience discrimination, harassment and violence in their day-to-day lives – on the street, in their workplaces and even in their homes and schools. There is still much work to be done.

During our consultation process and in ongoing conversations with stakeholders, we have been particularly mindful of events in the last year concerning police participation in Prides across the country. On the issue of police participation in the Capital Pride festival, community members have been passionate in their views. Of particular note were the strong feelings of many people who attended our consultation meetings – particularly LGBTQ2 youth – that uniformed police officers should not participate in Capital Pride activities off-duty. Conversely, we heard from many other community members that inclusion in Capital Pride for them means inclusion of uniformed police officers.

As an organization, Capital Pride supports the participation of individual LGBTQ2 police officers and their allies in this year’s festival. Indeed, we hope that members of police forces at all levels attend Pride events with their friends, families and colleagues. However, it is of prime importance to us that everyone feels safe at Pride, particularly LGBTQ2 youth, and racialized and Indigenous community members. Accordingly, we respectfully request that participating officers reserve their uniforms and vehicles for official work duties only this year.

The Ottawa Police Service will continue to provide the necessary services to ensure public safety at this year’s festival. Capital Pride recognizes the valuable work of the Ottawa Police Service in supporting us in the planning of the festival to this end.

In the coming years, the Capital Pride festival will continue to be a platform for its three pillars: celebration, education and advocacy. While Ottawa’s Pride is only one week in August and is centred around The Village on Bank Street, it is more than just one place and one weekend. Our festival programming is a reflection of our shared history, values and commitment to helping our community thrive year-round.

We hope that everyone in Ottawa’s LGBTQ2 community will continue to participate in the conversations started this year. We will be listening.

Capital Pride Board of Directors

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