Pride, prejudice, protests: LGBTQ still face discrimination on ‘progressive’ west coast

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Celebrating inclusion and diversity is what Pride Month is all about, but that hasn’t been particularly easy around parts of the Lower Mainland this year as a number of groups have made their anti-LGBTQ sentiments loud and clear.

Pride started on the west coast, but it appears prejudice against the people it’s meant to celebrate is still alive and well in B.C.

Some of those tensions bubbled over as allies and UBC students rallied against an anti-SOGI speaker’s event on campus Sunday.

Jonathan Turcotte Summers with Students Against Bigotry says three people were arrested during the protest against speaker Jenn Smith.

RELATED: Thousands of UBC staff call for cancellation of anti-SOGI event

“The community came out, made a lot of noise, and made it very clear to the administration that we’re not going to tolerate this kind of hate speech on our campus anymore,” he said. “The next time the administration tries to pull something like this and bring this type of speaker onto our campus … we made it very, very clear to the administration the next time they try to pull something like this, we’re going to come back and we’ll be even more, and we’ll be even louder and even stronger.”

Meantime, on Monday, demonstrators rallied against the Surrey RCMP raising of a pride flag at its headquarters.

Mounties have said they would lead by example and fly the flag, which represents diversity and inclusion, despite the threat of protest.

“As Canada’s national police service, it is important that the RCMP lead by example in promoting diversity and inclusion,” Sgt. Chad Greig said in an email to NEWS 1130. “The Pride flag represents equality and inclusion and displaying of the flag is a reflection, acknowledgement and support for a community within a larger community.”

RELATED: Surrey rejects requests to fly pride flag to commemorate LGBTQ milestone

In Richmond a group of former school board candidates are rallying behind the sole councillor to vote against a new rainbow cross walk, saying there hasn’t been enough public consultation.

Earlier this month, an Aldergrove woman’s pride flag was taken off her property several times — once by Township staff after a neighbour complained.

Incidents raise concerns within the community

The recent number of anti-LGBTQ incidents around the region have some members of the LGBTQ community concerned for their safety.

Trans-activist Morgane Oger says Pride Month has been tense.

“I think it has more to do with an upcoming election, and with the rise of populist hatred in Canada,” Oger told NEWS 1130.

She says there’s no doubt that acts of anti-LGBTQ hatred “have been more brazen” over the past few months, not just in B.C., but elsewhere in the country, too.

Oger worries the rise of hatred will continue, well after Pride Month. The main concern Oger has is that acts will turn more violent.

“The fear is that this is going to go from an expression of hatred to an act of hatred, and it’s very difficult to protect yourself against acts of hatred because they’re very sudden, and they’re very violent.”

Oger is urging caution about spreading more hate, and says everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of it.

“Please be kind, and don’t forget to enjoy Pride Month,” she said. “It’s the 50th anniversary of Stonewall [riots]. We no longer have to riot for equal treatment when we’re members of the LGBTQ2+ community, and SOGI education is now taught in every school in British Columbia.

“I think we’re doing really well as a society, but we need to get this hatred under control and we need to make sure we don’t spread the fire,” Oger added.

-With files from Adam Cooper and Taran Parmar

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