There appears to be a significant rift between the NPA's elected caucus and some board members on the party executive.
The first sign came when Coun. Rebecca Bligh quit the NPA because the party's newly elected board secretary, Phyllis Tang, and board treasurer, Ray Goldenchild, have ties to social conservatives.
Bligh praised her former caucus colleagues but still walked out of the party because the two executive members were previously endorsed by a socially conservative group that endorsed high-profile anti-SOGI 123 candidates, such as Barry Neufeld in Chilliwack and Heather Leung in Burnaby.
Tang was a council candidate for Yes Vancouver in 2018 and Goldenchild ran for park board with Vancouver 1st.
Just over an hour after Bligh issued a statement, the nine remaining NPA caucus members declared their "unequivocal support for Vancouver's LGBTQ2S+ community and SOGI 123".
“We fully understand and support our colleague Councillor Rebecca Bligh in her decision to sit as an independent Vancouver City Councillor at this time, and we look forward to continuing to work closely together with her to serve all residents of Vancouver," the nine caucus members declared in a written statement.
“LGBTQ2S+ issues are close to the hearts of all our elected NPA Caucus members," they added. "Of particular note: NPA City Councillor Lisa Dominato worked on and championed the introduction of the SOGI 123 in B.C.’s curriculum during her time with the Ministry of Education—a project she approached with true passion and dedication.”
The statement was endorsed by NPA councillors Melissa De Genova, Dominato, Colleen Hardwick, and Sarah Kirby-Yung, as well as NPA park commissioners Tricia Barker and John Coupar, and NPA school trustees Fraser Ballantyne, Carmen Cho, and Oliver Hanson.
In 1986, the first openly gay man to be elected to council, Gordon Price, ran with the NPA and ended up serving six terms. Other LGBT politicians elected on the NPA slate over the years included Alan Herbert, Duncan Wilson, Alan Fetherstonhaugh, and Laura McDiarmid. While serving as an NPA park commissioner, Wilson was beaten by a pipe-wielding assailant while walking with his partner.
The NPA was the first city organization to march in the Pride parade and former NPA councillor Elizabeth Ball was a long-time champion of the LGBT community.
However, when the NPA board did not greenlight trans activist Jamie Lee Hamilton's application to seek an NPA nomination in 2008, her friends, including Herbert, rallied to her defence at a demonstration behind Little Sister's Book & Art Emporium.
“Civil rights weren’t built in a day, but one thing is they can be lost in a day,” Herbert said at the time. “That’s something that I’ve always been fearful of.”
The current NPA caucus, however, insisted in its statement that it strives at all times to create a safe and inclusive city. "We will continue to stand for inclusivity and will strongly oppose anything that detracts from that objective," it said. "We believe it is important for our Caucus to speak out with a strong, unequivocal voice and express our unyielding continued support for our LGBTQ2S+ community and SOGI 123."