Imtiaz Popat: Why is there a double standard when it comes to uniformed police in Vancouver Pride parade?

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      As we approach the Pride weekend, the Vancouver police board has finally passed new policies to regulate the intake, holding, and body-searching of trans people in custody without discussion or amendments.

      This occurred on July 20, a year and four months past a deadline set by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, and more than two years after the Vancouver Police Department was found to have discriminated against trans people.

      The tribunal ordered new policies after ruling that the Vancouver Police Department systemically discriminated against trans people.

      The Vancouver Pride Society had already allowed the VPD to march in this year's Pride parade with fewer police in uniform even when the police board had not passed policies on trans people, as ordered by the tribunal.

      However, two years ago, the Pride society banned the B.C. Liberal party from the parade for not singing a pledge for transgender equality and for not amending the B.C. Human Rights Code to protect trans people. Many community members have called this a double standard.

      After a series of failed meetings and events in which the VPD did protect the community, Black Lives Matter Vancouver asked earlier this year that the VPD not march in this year’s Pride parade. BLM Vancouver also held a March on Pride along Davie Street on June 25, marking the anniversary of the Stonewall riots against police repression.

      Calgary Pride just announced last week that police are not welcome in its Pride Parade in uniform. Calgary joins Toronto, Halifax, and New York in not allowing police in uniform in their Pride parades.

      Meanwhile, Winnipeg police have announced that they will march in the parade there only in T-shirts.

      Yet the Vancouver Pride Society has decided to allow some uniformed police members to march in this year’s Parade.

      The VPD has not acknowledged its history of brutality against our diverse communities, yet it insists in marching in the Pride parade even after been asked not to. Mayor Gregor Robertson, who is the chair of the Vancouver police board, has shown little leadership in this matter.

      Many organizations and individuals will not be marching in this year’s Vancouver Pride parade because of the failure of the Vancouver Pride Society, the Vancouver Police Department, and the city's top political leader to resolve the issues of police in Pride.

      Imtiaz Popat is a community radio and television host and an equal-rights activist.

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