I was troubled to hear that participants at the annual general meeting of Toronto’s Pride organization voted to ban uniformed police from marching or participating in any way in future parades. We are concerned that efforts may be made to require Ottawa’s Pride organization to consider a similar motion.
I believe it’s a mistake to exclude uniformed police from Pride events. Over the last thirty years Ottawa Pride has built a stronger community, moving us from division to inclusion. It has played a central role in the evolution of individual and group rights in our City.
In our large Ottawa police family our LGBQT brothers and sisters can now live more openly within our workplace. This is the result of the growth of our awareness of diversity, which is, in part, attributable to the success of the Pride organization. Excluding uniformed police sends the mistaken message to all of our members, and in particular to our LGBQT members, that they are unwelcome by career choice and to the larger LGBQT community that police are not “their” public safety service. This is simply wrong.
Ottawa Capital Pride’s mission statement is “to create an environment for advocacy, education and the fostering of a strong and vibrant Rainbow Community within the Nation’s Capital region.” Having walked in several Pride parades I have experienced just how the organizing committee and participants succeed in this mission. When our members walk in the parade, proudly wearing their police uniforms, they are reinforcing the importance of inclusion – they are making it clear that policing, as a public service, reflects the community.
I would urge the Ottawa Capital Pride leadership to resist any departure from its commitment to inclusion.