Pride month begins with advancements and controversy

Several organizations across London honoured the start of Pride month by hoisting either the Pride or Progress Pride flag.

For the first time, King’s University College lifted the Progress Pride flag to honour Pride Month.

“We want it to be inclusive, we want it to be diverse, and we want to send the message, which we believe the flag does, sends the message that everyone is welcome here at King's,” says Principal David Malloy.

The Thames Valley School Board, OPP headquarters and London Police Service (LPS) also raised the Progress Pride flag Tuesday. The latter did so after announcing Monday that London Pride's board of directors had welcomed LPS to participate in this year’s virtual festivities.

LPS Chief Steve Williams says that decision came after discussions with the board, “We just had conversations really, developing some understanding and some trust, which underpins everything we do.”

London police were asked by Pride in 2020 not to fly the flag, as the group stood with Black Lives Matter (BLM) in their call for systematic change to policing.

BLM representatives were disappointed with the reversal of that decision.

“It’s quite disrespectful to the communities that have come forward and said, ‘We have an issue here, we need to solve it, we need to talk through it, we need work through it,’ and none of that has...I\t’s only been a year, none of that has been done yet,” says Alexandra Kane.

Williams however defends the decision to participate, “I know that everybody is not on board with our participation, but I also know that many are, and this is part of an ongoing effort to forge relationships with communities that may be marginalized, that may feel like they’ve been unfairly treated by police in the past -- and they may have been indeed.”

Kane says police could have used the opportunity to do something tangible to make inroads with those communities.

“Why don’t we host a talk? Why don’t we host a town hall? Why don’t we hear from people and see what’s good? You don’t need to be in a parade, and you’re just making people angry, and that does nothing. That does nothing, it changes nothing.”

CTV News London made several attempts to contact the president of Pride London to discuss the decision to allow London police to participate and did not receive a response.