Pride Toronto reversed its decision to allow uniformed police to participate in the 2019 festival on Tuesday (22 January).
At a special meeting, 163 members of Canada’s largest pride event chose to ban uniformed police. Meanwhile, 161 members elected to allow police participation.
Toronto Pride banned uniformed police officers from the parade in 2016. Organizers said their presence threatened marginalized pride marchers.
But, in October 2018, organizers let police reapply to join the event.
A board member told the meeting Tuesday’s vote meant no institutional police presence at Pride Toronto’s festival, street fair, or parade.
Police will be present to provide security and control traffic.
Pride Toronto is one of the world’s largest LGBTI pride festivals. As many as one million people attend events including a Dyke March, a Trans March and the Pride Parade.
In 2019 it will run throughout June, with the 39th annual pride parade taking place on 23 June.
Toronto’s LGBTI community has had a tense relationship with the police over the last few years.
In 2017, the community criticized police over their handling of the death of trans woman Alloura Wells. Police found Wells’ body four months after she was reported missing.
Critics also say police did not take the 2018 case of serial killer Bruce McArthur seriously. The LGBTI community claim police dismissed the idea of a serial killer targeting gay men.
The LGBTI community worldwide has increasingly called for police not to participate in pride events. Stonewall vet Miss Major last year called police ‘horrible people’ and said they had no place at pride.
Auckland Pride, meanwhile, banned uniform police from its 2019 march.
Some attendees of Tuesday’s meeting criticized the online voting method. They claimed questions over names added to the members’ list were not answered.