Vancouver Lunar New Year parade groups want apology for harms to LGBTQ+ community

Two groups initially excluded but later allowed to join Vancouver’s Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown are calling for an apology from the event organizers.

In an interview late Friday, the parade’s organizing committee spokesperson didn’t give any reasons for the reversal, only saying that letters had been sent to the groups Chinatown Together and Lunar New Year for All/Queer Lunar New Year approving their participation.

The groups responded in a letter later that same day, asking for an apology for harms caused to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as youth and elders in Chinatown, saying they were put through “a series of turbulence, disappointment, public humiliation, character assassination, and harmful stigmatization stemming from your committee’s dissemination of baseless, unprovoked accusations in the public sphere after rejecting us from participating in the parade.”

They said they will consider participating in the parade if the apology acknowledges the “harmful and unfounded statements” against the groups, and if the organizers commit to transparent communication about criteria for participating in future parades.

“We have no doubt your committee feels regretful regarding these series of unfortunate events this past week,” the groups said in the letter. “We believe that open dialogue and mutual respect are essential in resolving this matter and ensuring the integrity of community events like the Chinatown Spring Festival Parade.”

Melody Ma, an organizer of Chinatown Together, had posted a letter on social media that she says came from the parade’s organizers, telling her that approval of Chinatown Together’s participation had been rescinded because “political activism finds no place within the spirit of the event.”

The letter dated Feb. 3 says the parade is “dedicated to a sense of unity” and is intentionally distanced from religious or political affiliations.

But Pearl Wong, co-organizer of Lunar New Year For All, says they don’t consider themselves political, and no reason for their exclusion was given in the letter they received.

“Our thought process was, hey, it would be really cool if we could form a group that is dedicated for queer and trans folks of Asian descent,” Wong said.

“We don’t really understand why it has to be this hard, because I don’t think it’s very hard to be inclusive and welcoming.”

With files from Renee Bernard and The Canadian Press

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