Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's Pride welcomes back police for parade, defends RNC handling of controversies

The Pride committee in St. John's has reversed course and invited uniformed police officers to march in the city's Pride parade this July.

Decision not sitting well with some in the gay, lesbian and transgender community

Members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP marching in the 2014 St. John's Pride Parade. (Scott Jackson/CBC)

The Pride committee in St. John's has reversed course and invited uniformed police officers to march in the city's Pride parade this July.

Organizers posted to Facebook Tuesday thanking the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, RCMP, organizations representing visible minorities and the community for supporting "meaningful progress."

Last July, the RNC said it would play a "less visible role" at the Pride parade in Newfoundland's capital at the request of event organizers, who had asked officers to participate out of uniform to make the event "more accessible for to all."

LGBT supporters at Confederation Building in St. John's at a flag raising to launch Pride Week events. (CBC)

St. John's Pride said in a post on its website that organizers met with members of the RNC and Memorial University's Black Students' Association last week and sent two surveys to organizations for visible minorities and to the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

It says the survey results were discussed and it was agreed that the organization would build on its "flourishing" relationship with the RNC while maintaining its commitment to the comfort of all of its members at Pride events.

Some disagreement in LGTB community

Not everybody is pleased with the decision.

Several comments on St. John's Pride's Facebook page allude to allegations and ongoing investigations within the RNC.

A comment about Const. Carl Douglas Snelgrove, who was found not guilty of sexual assault in February, prompted a reply from the page administrator.

"St. John's Pride believes that the RNC holds high standards for their enforcement, and has been critical when discussing recent controversies," they said. 

"We have invited the RNC to our events to demonstrate the meaningful progress of the institution, as well as have members of the LGBTQ+ community of whatever profession expressing themselves in any way they want.

The annual Pride parade in St. John's will allow police officers to march in uniform this year. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

Elsewhere in Canada, Halifax's police service said in February that it will not participate in this year's Pride parade amid a "national debate" about police involvement in such event. Organizers behind Vancouver's Pride parade have suggested officers show up in fewer numbers and leave their uniforms at home.

Pride Toronto members voted in January to ostensibly ban official police floats from marches and parades, adopting a list of demands put forward by that city's chapter of Black Lives Matter.

With files from The Canadian Press