British Columbia

Vancouver Pride Society bans B.C. Liberals from this year's virtual parade

The Vancouver Pride Society says the Opposition B.C. Liberals won't be part of next month's virtual Pride parade after failing to take action against a member of its caucus accused of homophobia and transphobia.

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness under fire for defending magazine article on conversion therapy

The NDP has called for Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness to be removed from the B.C. Liberal caucus over alleged homophobia. (John Lehmann/B.C. Liberal Caucus)

The Vancouver Pride Society says the B.C. Liberals won't be part of next month's virtual pride parade after failing to take action against a member of its caucus accused of homophobia and transphobia.

The society said it informed the opposition party Tuesday and will look forward to hearing about how the Liberals plan to ensure all caucus members understand the harms of conversion therapy.

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness has come under fire for defending an article published in Light Magazine on the widely discredited practice that claims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Throness also told CTV on July 3 that he planned to continue buying advertising in the Christian publication after Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said the party's advertising policy would be reviewed.

Carlie Pochynok, Liberal party director of communications, said in a statement Tuesday that Wilkinson and the Liberal party do not support or condone conversion therapy.

Wilkinson has said anti-discrimination is a condition of caucus membership, but Pochynok would not say if Thronness would continue to be part of the caucus or to serve in role as critic for children and family development.

'Allyship is action'

Pride society co-chair Michelle Fortin said she's disappointed that the Liberals aren't holding one another accountable and their offer of anti-discrimination training to the party hasn't been accepted.

Being an ally to people facing discrimination is about more than saying you are opposed to discrimination, Fortin says.

"Allyship is action, it's no longer just lip service."

Fortin said marching in a parade is an important show of support, but Vancouver Pride and other pride societies began using an assessment matrix six or seven years ago to ensure participants are living by their words.

A marcher in the 2019 Vancouver Pride Parade. The 2020 parade will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The matrix is not about punishing people and the society recognizes that systemic change takes time, she said.

"People can have missteps, we recognize that. So, the matrix includes [asking] have you had a misstep? Yes? OK so you're not going to get full points. But have you dealt with that effectively? Great, you have four or five points,'' she said.

The Liberals missed the society's deadline for response on Monday, she said.

Pochynok said the party's provincial executive and members of the legislature are working on an ongoing basis to refine its inclusion and diversity policies.

"We regret Vancouver Pride's decision to exclude us, but respect that this is their decision to make,'' she said.

Action sparked by NDP MLA's letter

Fortin said that to her knowledge, it will be the first time the society will ban the Liberal party from the parade.

The pride society issued the call to the Liberals last week after reviewing a letter sent by New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert to Wilkinson.

A letter from an NDP MLA to the Opposition leader cites 'anti-LGBTQ views' of MLA Laurie Throness, top row, third from left, as grounds for him to be thrown out of the B.C. Liberal caucus and removed as children and families critic. (Mike McArthur / CBC)

In the letter, Chandra Herbert thanks Wilkinson and some other Liberals for statements opposing discrimination and for committing to review the advertising policy. However, he said it was dangerous to have someone who supports conversion therapy in the role as critic for the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

"Conversion therapy is a discredited, abusive practice where LGBTQ people are taught to hate themselves,'' Chandra Herbert said in the letter.

"It leads to self-harm, depression and suicide. It is discriminatory. It is homophobic. It is transphobic. No science supports the abuse, and neither should the B.C. Liberal party's lead on children and family issues.''


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