NORTH BAY — North Bay's annual Pride parade will get a name change this year to Pride march.
"In response to the alarming rise in hate both in person and online, North Bay Pride has decided not to hold the traditional pride parade this year. Instead, the organization will return to the streets with a united march for equity and inclusion, sending a powerful message against the denial of someone's identity and the hate that accompanies it," says Jason Maclennan, the Communications Director for North Bay Pride.
"The 2SLGBTQ+ community has faced a long history of discrimination and attacks from hate groups and individuals. Sadly, the current surge in hate is reminiscent of a dark time in history when being gay was considered illegal, and violence against the queer community was a daily occurrence. This escalating wave of hatred is deeply troubling and wholly unacceptable," he says in a news release.
"The denial of someone's identity is not a mere difference of opinion; it is rooted in hate towards them, no matter how some may try to spin it," said Maclennan. "We cannot let our society regress, and we must stand together against all forms of hate and discrimination."
Maclennan says North Bay Pride is disheartened by the reluctance of MPP Vic Fedeli, and the current provincial government to engage in dialogue with the community about the escalating hate, threats of violence, and daily physical violence faced by the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
"This lack of willingness to address the issue only perpetuates the problem."
He says Premier Ford has not shown support for legislation to establish safe zones for the community, which would help prevent violence against marginalized voices. The organization has repeatedly invited Premier Ford to engage in a discussion with Prides across Ontario, but he has yet to respond.
This year's local Pride Week runs from September 13 to 17.
Figures from Statistics Canada show police-reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation increased almost 64 per cent in Canada between 2020 and 2021. Efforts to remove books with LGBTQ content and prevent the raising of Pride flags have also reached a boiling point at some schools and boards, while some Canadian venues have come under fire from protesters opposed to drag shows.