Director accuses Vancouver Pride Society of playing politics, resigns
Published Monday, July 27, 2015 5:26PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, July 27, 2015 7:56PM PDT
One of the directors of the Vancouver Pride Society has resigned, accusing organizers of playing politics to keep the BC Liberals out of this year’s parade.
Last week, organizers revealed the Liberals aren’t welcome because the party has refused to sign the Trans Equality Now pledge, a condition required of all parade participants.
But former director Tim Ell said he’s concerned B.C.’s governing party is being held to a higher standard than others.
“There’s been a very clear double-standard,” said Ell, who resigned on Saturday. “Pride is absolutely a political organization at its core, but it’s not a partisan organization – and it shouldn’t be.”
After news broke the Liberals wouldn’t be taking part in the parade, the Pride Society released a statement explaining what it expects of all political parties participating.
It said any elected officials or candidates who want to march must personally sign the Trans Equality Now pledge, but also that a member of their party’s board of directors must sign on behalf of the entire party, “as opposed to a riding association, electoral district, or equivalent body.”
Prior to that, the BC Liberals’ riding association for Vancouver’s West End, where the parade takes place, had already signed the pledge and believed members would be taking part.
Ell accused the VPS of moving the goalposts to keep the Liberals out, and suggested the other political parties haven’t met both criteria either – something society president Tim Richards denies.
“We’re a non-partisan organization. We don’t want to get drawn into partisan politics,” said Richards, who called Ell’s resignation a disappointment.
“We hope to see Premier [Christy] Clark and her team choose to celebrate with us and be part of this.”
Richards said all the other political parties marching in the parade have met the VPS pledge criteria, which he said is non-negotiable because fighting for trans and gender variant rights is central to this year’s celebration.
“We’re asking participants in the parade to support a very marginalized part of our community,” he said. “While we’ve come so far and there’s been tremendous progress for equality, there’s still a tremendous amount of work to do.”
The B.C. NDP confirmed its president, Craig Keating, signed on behalf of the party Monday, and the B.C. Green Party said interim leader Adam Olsen had signed as well.
The Trans Equality Now pledge calls for gender identity to be explicitly included in B.C.’s Human Rights Code, and for violence based on gender identity to be classified as a hate crime under Canada’s Criminal Code.
The BC Liberals said the province’s Human Rights Code has already successfully been used to protect transgender rights, even though it doesn’t specifically include the term gender identity.
Unless things change, this year’s parade will be the first in four years that the BC Liberals haven’t taken part in.