Steinbach split on Pride Parade celebrations

Steinbach residents are divided when it comes to the city’s first Pride Parade planned for July 9.
Steinbach's first Pride Parade is planned for July 9. While RCMP reviews whether to grant organizers a parade permit, the mayor and city council have said they will not endorse the event. (CBC)

Steinbach, Man., is divided about the city's first Pride Parade planned for July 9. 

Manitoba RCMP, who said they were reassessing the event's permit yesterday, have yet to approve a specific route. 

The city's mayor and city council were clear in a written statement yesterday, they will not endorse the event.

The opinions of people and organizations who hold "different beliefs from those in the LGBTQ community" need to be respected, the municipal leaders said in a statement Wednesday, while parade goers have the right to express themselves safely, they added.

Neither Mayor Chris Goertzen nor city councillors were available to comment Thursday, and a person at city hall said they would in any case not expand on the statement released. 

Steinbach boasts a large faith community, and some residents cited their Christian beliefs as a reason for refusing to support the city's first Pride Parade.

Other residents in Manitoba's third-largest city said they were supporting Steinbach Pride.

"My personal opinion is it's a good thing. People are people and everybody in Steinbach needs to realize that. We're all equal," said Ruth Bauer.

"Everybody has love in their heart and everyone deserves to be loved," she said.

Mister Harry said a Pride Parade was "long overdue" in Steinbach.

"I think we should all embrace each other … and all get along," he said.

Steinbach Pride organizer Michelle McHale said much of the criticism of Steinbach Parade has appeared in online comments.

"While I absolutely believe that everyone's opinions need to be respected, it's important not to discount the things that people say are difficult," she said of some of the negative comments.

Many commenters have questioned whether Steinbach needs a Pride Parade when LGBTQ rights are protected in Canada, McHale said.
Ruth Bauer said a Pride Parade will be a good thing for Steinbach to celebrate everyone's equal rights. (CBC)

She expressed disappointment that Steinbach's mayor and council have not taken a leadership role in acknowledging the struggles of the LGBT community.

"Education is needed …. if you haven't been in a position where you've been discriminated against for something about yourself that you can't change, you don't know what that's like," she said.

Steinbach needs a Pride Parade because there may still be people out there who feel like they will face repercussions for coming out, McHale said.

"We want people to know that they aren't alone and that you can be out and you can still be ok," she said.

She said it's "excellent" the RCMP are reassessing their decision not to issue a parade permit to Steinbach Pride and that officers will support parade-goers.

with files from Meagan Fiddler