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Vancouver Public Library told it can't participate in next month's Pride Parade

Last Updated Jul 23, 2019 at 11:56 am PDT

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)
Summary

The Vancouver Pride Society has barred the Vancouver Public Library from participating in next months Pride Parade

Pride society says decision to ban VPL from participating stems from library's decision to allow Meghan Murphy event

Concerns raised by community members prior to the event have not been adequately addressed, pride society says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Another organization is being told it can’t participate in next month’s Pride Parade in Vancouver.

The Pride Society says the Vancouver Public Library is no longer permitted to take part because it allowed a “transphobic and anti-sex worker” speaker, Meghan Murphy, to book space for an event in January.

During that event, the Pride Society says “five speakers asserted trans women are not women and should not be treated as women.”

“VPS asserts that the conduct reflected both at this event, and in past public comments by these speakers, are discriminatory in a way that violates the British Columbia Human Rights Code,” the society says in a statement.

Andrea Arnot with the Pride Society tells NEWS 1130 the organization has been engaged in discussions with a number of groups and members of the trans community.

“These decisions are always difficult and it’s multilayered and complex,” she says. “We recognize that the Vancouver Public Library has engaged in creating a trans-inclusion strategy and made a lot of strides in changes to how they do things, policies and procedures. So it is difficult to make a decision like this.”

However, Arnot says after hearing concerns from the community about the Murphy talk, changes need to be made.

She says the Pride Society would like to see the VPL ‘take a page’ out of the Toronto Public Library’s book, so to speak, and not allow “discriminatory speech based on protective grounds of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

“We’re hoping that the Vancouver Public Library can alter their room-booking policies to reflect that type of language, so that there would be a mechanism to not allow people who are known to spread hate speech and transphobic speech to have a platform,” she explains.

Meantime, VPL Chief Librarian Christina De Castell says the decision is disappointing.

“We do appreciate that library staff and partners are still welcome to participate as members and allies as we have for decades,”┬áDe Castell says.

De Castell tells NEWS 1130 the library spoke with the Pride Society while it was making its decision.

“We see it as an important issue, and VPL sought legal advice both before and after the event,” she says of the library’s decision to host Murphy’s event earlier this year. “The legal advice that we received was that based on current law, the event was not in violation of the B.C. Human Rights Code.

“The Pride Society asserts that they violated the human rights code, and we would encourage them to pursue it through the legal system,” De Castell adds.

Earlier this month, the University of British Columbia was barred from marching in the Vancouver Pride Parade because it hosted a controversial anti-SOGI speaker in June.