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'A noninclusive Premier': LGBTQ advocates criticize Kenney for skipping Edmonton Pride

A man holds a flag on a hockey stick during the Pride parade in Toronto, Sunday, June 25, 2017. The first court challenge to an Alberta law that bars schools from telling parents when their children join gay-straight alliances carries some echoes of the debate over legalizing same-sex marriage more than a decade ago, according to one LGBTQ advocate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

The UCP party applied to take part in Edmonton Pride in 2018 but were denied

Since Premier Jason Kenney took power he has removed Bill 24 that prevented schools from outing students to parents

The new provincial government also disbanded a working group studying gay conversion therapy

ALBERTA (660 NEWS) — Premier Jason Kenney’s relationship with the LGBTQ community has become even more strained after he decided to skip Edmonton Pride events without explanation — making him the first Alberta Premier in years to do so.

Speaking to the press in Calgary on Friday, Kenney said representatives from the government would be in attendance and pointed out that Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women Leela Aheer attended the raising of the Pride Flag at the Alberta Legislature.

Affirming coordinator Keith Murray with Hillhurst United Church called it an empty act, especially considering the government’s elimination of Bill 24 that effectively removed protections for Gay-Straight Alliances in schools.

“I think a government that isn’t able to support the most marginalized in our community; it just goes to show how they might not be supportive of other things that are important to us down the road,” Murray said.

READ MORE: Students across Alberta stage walk out to protest expected gay-straight alliance changes

In the lead up to the provincial election, the UCP party applied to participate in Edmonton Pride however their request was denied. Now that he’s Premier and is skipping Pride events, Murray questions if his support for LQBTQ communities was just for show.

“It goes a long way to show that you are prioritizing a human rights issue,” he said. “Jason Kenney’s absence really speaks to the fact that all of his efforts to have the UCP involved in the Pride parade while they were running was really just lip service.”

Kenney’s support of the LGBTQ community has also been called into question after his government dismantled the working group on gay conversion therapy that was created by the former NDP government.

“I think he continues to show what his true colours are,” said Pam Rocker, an LGBTQ advocate. “Perhaps now that he is in a majority it is less important for him to even make a show of supporting the LGBTQ community.” Moving forward, she wonders what other legislation the majority government will push through.

“Perhaps now he’s going to even continue to be more aggressive about what it means to be a non-inclusive premier in our province,” she said.