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Not Everyone Is Cool With The Vancouver Pride Parade's Trans Rights Pledge

Pride Society accused of playing politics ahead of Sunday's parade.

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The organizers of this year's Pride celebrations in Vancouver have made it clear that transgender rights are a priority for 2015.

New this year, all participants in the annual parade must sign a trans rights pledge. That pledge wasn't just a general message of support — it specifically called for "gender identity" to be added to B.C.'s human rights code.

That's the part B.C.'s Liberal Party is having trouble with.

Although they've been called on to do so by activists and the B.C. NDP, the governing Liberals have rebuffed calls to add gender identity to the province's code.

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Asked about it during question period earlier this month, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the courts have been "crystal clear" that the current code covers trans and gender-variant people:

"The issue of gender identity and the human rights code of British Columbia is crystal clear. Our human rights code protects all persons, no matter what their identity, no matter what their gender identity."

Anton reiterated this in a statement to CBC News, saying, "Every individual - regardless of whether they are transgender, transsexual, gay, bisexual, heterosexual - is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection. The Human Rights Code is interpreted to include transgender persons and covers the rights of transgender persons."

Gender identity is explicitly protected in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, P.E.I. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories.

Because of their issues with the pledge, the Liberal party will not be allowed to march in Sunday's Pride parade.

For political parties, the Vancouver Pride Society required both the board of directors and all elected officials or candidates to sign the pledge, CBC reported.

The B.C. NDP and Greens told CTV both parties have fulfilled those requirements.

But that decision did not sit well with everyone. Vancouver Pride Society board member Tim Ell resigned this week, saying the pledge requirements had pushed the event into partisanship.

I am looking fwd to #vanpride and wish everyone a safe, fun and happy weekend. Also looking fwd to a time when pride is truly post-partisan.

While Ell agrees that Pride is an inherently political event, the Liberals are being singled out.

“Every single time the parties in question that are asked to sign this pledge keep finding a compromise or try to make it happen, the standards keep changing — there’s another requirement put on top, and another one and another," he said, according to 24 Hours Vancouver.

Despite the controversy, the organization is sticking to its guns. Pride Society president Tim Richards told News 1130 that explicit protection for trans and gender-variant people is non-negotiable.

“It needs to be explicit,” Richards told News 1130.

“Other provinces have recognized that. I hope that we’ll catch up here in B.C. and actually look at what other provinces have done and the reasons for that. I believe being explicit, as we’ve been explicit in asking for people to support equality, it’s just really, really important.”

Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at

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