An annual Vancouver celebration of equality and human rights is exerting pressure on a B.C. political party to take action against one of its elected MLAs for alleged discriminatory views—or it won’t be allowed to partake in its event.
The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) explained in a news release on July 16 that it became aware of news reports about advertisements that B.C. Liberals ran in the Langley-based Christian community and lifestyle publication The Light Magazine.
The VPS raised concerns, stating that magazine contains “articles elevating anti-trans and pro-conversion therapy rhetoric targeting LGBQAI2S+ people”.
“These views put LGBTQAI2S+ British Columbians in danger, and have deleterious effects on their health and well-being,” the VPS stated.
The VPS acknowledged that B.C. Liberal party leader Andrew Wilkinson had issued a statement that there isn’t any room for discrimination in his party, including homophobia or transphobia.
However, Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness thereafter stated that he would continue to advertise in the publication and defended an article raising concerns about banning conversion therapy.
“This is incredibly concerning as it suggests that the BC Liberal Party, and caucus, are at the very least tolerant of homophobia and transphobia,” the VPS stated. “These recent events have led us to re-score the application and find that the B.C. Liberal Party no longer meets the minimum requirement for participation [in the Pride parade].”
Accordingly, the VPS notified the B.C. Liberal Party on July 16 that they would not be permitted to participate in this year’s Pride parade, which is scheduled to take place this year through virtual means on August 2, if concerns about Throness remain unaddressed.
The VPS echoed West End–Coal Harbour NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert’s call for action to be taken against Throness, including removing from the B.C. Liberal caucus and his role as opposition critic of the Ministry of Children and Families.
Chandra Herbert had pointed out in a letter to Wilkinson that Throness has a history of anti-LGBT views, including criticizing B.C.’s SOGI [sexual orientation and gender identity] 123 resource for schools and defending Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld, who has expressed many controversial views against LGBT people and issues.
“Participants in our events that celebrate, uplift, and elevate LGBTQAI2S+ communities must be held to a higher standard,” the VPS explained.