Decision to deny Alberta political parties from 2019 Calgary Pride Parade upheld

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WATCH ABOVE: Shone Thistle, Chair of Calgary Pride Board of Directors, joins Global News Morning Calgary to discuss the recent decision to decline all political party applications to march in the 2019 Calgary Pride Parade – Jul 30, 2019

Calgary Pride has upheld a decision to decline all applications from Alberta political parties hoping to march in the 2019 Calgary Pride Parade.

The decision was initially announced last week, and on Monday evening Calgary Pride posted a news release on its website stating that they wouldn’t be reversing course.

READ MORE: Alberta political parties denied marching in Calgary Pride Parade

The organization explained that it received a record number of parade applications this year, which were reviewed by an independent jury.

Only one political party, the NDP, met the criteria Calgary Pride had set out for parade participants, and feeling it would be “inappropriate and preferential” to allow only one party to participate, the board decided to decline all party applications.

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MLA for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood and LGBTQ2S+ and women’s issues critic Janis Irwin took to Twitter on Monday evening to express her disappointment that Calgary Pride’s Board of Directors didn’t reconsider their decision.

Speaking to Global News on Tuesday, President of the Calgary Pride Board of Directors Shone Thistle said the NDP have been “phenomenal advocates” for the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“Our gratitude is beyond measure for that,” Thistle said. “But we also have a number of other political parties that have been supporting: the Green Party, for instance, the Alberta Party, the Liberal party — those advocates need to be honoured in some way.”

Parade organizers will be meeting with the NDP next week. The meeting was originally scheduled for Monday evening but had to be postponed.

UCP were not invited to participate in Calgary Pride Parade

The UCP’s application to march in the parade, which was submitted at the beginning of June, was declined.

“One of the questions within the application actually asks about diversity and inclusion,” Thistle explained. “It asks what policies they have in place to promote diversity. And the answer to that is, they have none at this time.”

“We heard from them within their application that they do promote diversity and inclusion, so we took a look at what we could find online – at their policies, at their procedures, at their messaging to their membership and to community – we found no mention of gender diversity, of sexual orientation, of discrimination, of no harassment policies… anything like that.”

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Thistle said Calgary Pride’s Board of Directions reached out to the UCP to decline their application.

“Then, in the month of July, the UCP chose to roll back [LGBTQ2S+] rights for the first time in Canadian history,” Thistle said, referring to Bill 8.

READ MORE: Controversial Alberta education bill passes after marathon debate

A news release from Calgary Pride asked the UCP to reverse the bill, and “reinstate those basic human rights of diversity and inclusion for all gender and sexually diverse Albertans, but most especially for youth.”

“We recognize there are allies within the UCP party and we are abundantly grateful for their efforts; we continue to make ourselves available to any and all conversations that help advance these recommendations and support the work of those allies.“

Alberta politicians still encouraged to attend parade

All members of the public are invited to come as spectators for the parade, Thistle said.

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“We encourage community partners whose mandates directly serve the LGBTQ2S+ community to invite those politicians that have shown themselves to be true and unequivocal allies, to march with you in solidarity,” a news release from Calgary Pride stated.

READ MORE: New permanent rainbow and trans Pride flag crosswalks coming to Calgary

“We ask you to please ensure that you are inviting politicians and not political parties, letting them know they can wear whatever they choose, including identifying markers for their political party; however, we ask for your assurance that they not carry banners or signs and allow their unique efforts and personal allyship to shine through.”

Public conversation on Pride and politics

Calgary Pride said it will be hosting a public conversation on Pride and politics as a part of the 2019 Calgary Pride Festival.

“Invitations will be going out to speakers who will come from a number of political parties, as well as elders and youth from the community,” a news release stated. “They will be invited to discuss the ongoing issues our community faces and speak to their future roles as part of the Pride movement.

The 2019 Calgary Pride Festival runs from Aug. 23 – Sept. 1.