In Canada and around the world, Pride parades and events on Sunday signalled another series of steps forward for the LGBTQ community.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto Mayor John Tory are among those expected to attend the annual Pride Parade in Toronto, billed as the largest such gathering in the world, although Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said he won’t participate because uniformed police officers were excluded from the event for a third year in a row.
Uniformed officers were first banned from the parade in 2017 over concerns of racial profiling. They were banned again in 2018 over criticism the force had not taken the disappearances of several men missing from the city’s gay village seriously. Serial killer Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty earlier this year to murdering eight men with ties to the gay village.
Leadership of Pride Toronto had initially invited officers to apply to march in this year’s parade, but the membership voted to bar police once again.
In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe participated in his first Pride parade on Saturday, marking the first time a leader from his long-governing party has attended the annual celebration.
Moe’s press secretary said a change in schedule allowed the premier to travel to Saskatoon to join the march, along with several of his fellow legislators, to show “support for all of Saskatchewan’s citizens.”
Provincial NDP Leader Ryan Meili, who had previously condemned the Saskatchewan Party for not partaking in any Pride parades, tweeted a picture of himself at the parade beside Moe.
“For the good of all SK, let’s hope it’s a new tradition for all premiers,” Meili wrote.
The Saskatchewan Party has held government in the province since 2007.
Moe, who has been premier since February, 2018, after succeeding Brad Wall as leader of the Saskatchewan Party, missed the Pride parade in Regina last weekend. He also missed last year’s event in Regina because his office said he had a busy international travel schedule.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, politicians and foreign diplomats joined thousands marching for gay pride in Kiev on Sunday, the biggest and most peaceful ever in the former Soviet country.
Crowds of people, many dressed in bright colours, paraded along streets in the centre of the Ukrainian capital, holding up banners saying “Diversity is beautiful”, “Human rights = happy country”, “No violence - yes rights!”.
They were flanked by a thick cordon of police in helmets but there was no sign of violence despite the presence of a few hundred protesters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a former comedian who took office last month, has promoted a tolerant culture, saying he stands for all people’s equality and freedom.
“Our desire is to convey to a majority of people that LGBT is normality,” Eduard, a 17-year-old tattoo artist, told Reuters.
“I am taking part for the fifth time. Ukraine is making significant progress compared to previous years, security and organization are much better.”
Zelenskiy’s office urged the police to prevent violence and guarantee the safety of participants in the March of Equality.
“Ukraine’s Constitution states that citizens have equal constitutional rights and freedoms,” it said in a post on its Facebook page on Sunday morning.
In Romania, thousands of people joined a LGBT pride march in Bucharest on Saturday, nearly a year after Romania held a failed referendum to ban same sex marriage.
Socially conservative Romania, which decriminalised homosexuality in 2001, decades after its neighbours, bars marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples.
On Saturday, roughly 10,000 people braved rain showers and marched the length of Bucharest’s iconic Calea Victoriei, dancing and waving rainbow flags. Organizers said the march was larger than last year’s pride parade.
“I am here for equality, I want to be allowed to live my life,” said Alina, 23.
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters