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World Pride celebration coming to town in 2014 Add to ...

Toronto will host the World Pride event in 2014, after the city beat its competitors in a weekend vote held at the global InterPride Conference in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Toronto received 78 per cent of the votes in the second round of balloting, eliminating its main competition, Stockholm.

The triumph is certain to be a boon for Toronto's economy, which saw an estimated $136-million pumped into it last summer as a result of the city's annual Pride Toronto celebration.

World Pride promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues on an international level through parades, festivals, and other events.

Tracey Sandilands, executive director of Pride Toronto, said yesterday that 1.3-million people attended events at this year's Pride Toronto - and that World Pride promises to be substantially bigger.

"We're thrilled," Ms. Sandilands said. "This was not an easy win. We knew that our competition was stiff - and that there was a lot of sympathy for Stockholm because they didn't get it last year."

The World Pride events in July, 2014, will replace the city's annual Pride Toronto celebration.

Ms. Sandilands said that the Toronto bid placed considerable emphasis on human rights - an area that delegates tend to scrutinize closely. "I think that may be the reason we had an edge," she said. "I think we have credibility because we have been implementing human rights activities for a couple of years."

Ms. Sandilands said that, for the past four years, the Toronto Pride parade has been led by activists from countries where gays suffer from repression. She said that Toronto has also been a leader in recognizing the trans-gendered community.

"Our marketing campaign is aimed at making people feel included and bringing marginalized groups into the fold," she added.

The 10-day event will include an opening ceremony with top-flight performers, held at a large venue such as the Rogers Centre, she said. There also will be a major parade, an awards banquet, networking opportunities for global delegates and continuous entertainment.

The victorious Toronto delegation at the Florida conference consisted of 10 representatives from Pride Toronto, Tourism Toronto and the Toronto Police.

The Toronto event will be the fourth scheduled World Pride.

Two have already taken place - Rome in 2000, and Jerusalem in 2006. London is scheduled to hold the next celebration, in 2012.

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