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Vancouver Public Library pushed out of 2019 Pride Parade
The Vancouver Public Library has been banned from participating in this year's Pride Parade over its decision to rent space to a controversial speaker who opposes transgender rights.
In a statement explaining the ban, the Vancouver Pride Society argued the library provided "a platform for discriminatory, transphobic speech" when it allowed radical feminist blogger Meghan Murphy to speak at the downtown branch back in January.
"During this event, five speakers asserted that trans women are not women and should not be treated as women," the society said Tuesday.
The VPS noted the right of transgender people to be referred to by their chosen pronouns is laid out in B.C.'s Human Rights Code, and argued public institutions such as libraries have an obligation to protect people from discriminatory speech.
"We support debate, even that which we find objectionable or offensive, but not past the point that the speech is discriminatory based on protected grounds. Basic, fundamental rights are not up for debate," the society said.
Though the Vancouver Public Library will not be allowed to participate in the parade, the VPS said individual employees are free to march with the City of Vancouver of their union, CUPE 291.
Society members have met with library representatives to discuss their concerns, but said they were told the VPL would not change its room rental policies.
The library previously defended its decision to rent space to the Meghan Murphy event, noting that it was neither hosting nor endorsing the event.
"VPL has zero tolerance for discrimination and does not agree with the views of (Murphy's blog) the Feminist Current. However, commitment to free speech and intellectual freedom are fundamental values of public libraries and are bedrock values for democratic society," it said in a statement.
The decision to ban the library follows just two weeks after the society decided not to let the University of British Columbia take part in the parade either, for similar reasons.
Members criticized the university for allowing an event called "The Erosion of Freedom: How Transgender Politics in School and Society is Undermining Our Freedom and Harming Women & Children" to be held on campus in June.
The speaker, Jenn Smith, is also known for referring to transgender women as men.