Vancouver Pride Society un-invited two publicly-funded institutions from the 2019 Vancouver Pride Parade: the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Vancouver Public Library (VPL)
Since this decision, both institutions eventually owned up to causing harm to transgender persons, specifically transgender women. Sadly, they also failed to admit that they had a choice in their actions.
The Vancouver Pride Society’s most powerful tool is deciding who it asks to stay home. Let’s not forget this is not the first time.
The past ejection from the Vancouver Pride Parade of the BC Liberal Party and the Conservative Party of Canada was instrumental in getting laws passed enacting the protection from discrimination of gender identity or expression. A threat of ejection finally convinced Vancouver Police to leave their guns and armour at home after years of tone-deaf intransigence.
The choices that UBC and VPL made were legal ones, but they were made with full knowledge of what was coming. I personally reached out to the leadership of both institutions with a warning of what would happen with evidence supporting it. Each institution’s decision to ignore the warnings were simply public-policy failures, intertwined with a strong dose of the type of transphobia that tolerates denying our validity as acceptable but would take a stand at denying any other community’s validity. After all, it is well known that Vancouver Public Library routinely refuses applications for speaking events and only refused to cancel the Meghan Murphy anti-transgender event because they would be embarassed by the cosnequences. I wonder, are they embarassed now?
Although these organizations had every right to choose to do nothing and they broke no laws, our public library and our large institutions also carry a responsibility not to set a precedent enabling hatred.
When they each allowed a different supremacist to amplify disinformation for the purpose of cultivating hatred and discrimination on prohibited grounds, they set policy precedents.
Now, every supremacist speaker can use this precedent to get access to these high-value venues. These organizations can no longer legally say no to any hate propaganda if they allow some hate propaganda.
That so manu commentators fail to see the scale of the error these organizations made because they rejected their responsibility to treat all hatred equally is concerning.
This will bring ripples for years and that very much saddens me.
Now, because of the decisions of the President of UBC and the Chief Librarian of Vancouver anyone peddling any one of the myriad flavours of supremacist hatred that exists has a new tool to force themselves onto the platforms that institutional complacency has newly made available to them.
Freedom of expression does not include the freedom to lie while inciting hatred in a publicly-funded event space. Universities, libraries, and municipalities are supposed to curate what is presented as truth in their spaces.
Good for Vancouver Pride Society for taking a stand, somebody had to.
I write about inclusion and political issues while working to narrow the gap between the laws we took great pains to create and their real-world implementation.