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Vancouver Public Library banned from walking in Pride Parade

In Canada, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) has banned the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) from walking in its annual Pride Parade, due to the library’s ‘decision to provide a platform for discriminatory, transphobic speech’, reports the Vancouver Courier.

According to the VPS, the library permitted ‘transphobic and anti-sex work’ critic Meghan Murphy to book space for an event, during which five speakers asserted that trans women are not women and should not be treated as women. The VPS claims the conduct reflected at the event, and in past public comments by the speakers, was discriminatory and violated British Columbia’s Human Rights Code.

VPS told the VPL that a lack of change to the room rental policies would preclude the library from participating in this year’s parade. ‘Institutions such as libraries and universities are well known houses of public debate and free thought,’ VPS said. ‘We support debate, even that which we find objectionable or offensive, but not past the point that the speech is discriminatory based on protected grounds. Basic, fundamental rights are not up for debate.’

In a statement, the VPL said as a public institution, it’s ‘committed to providing a venue where diverse ideas and opinions can be shared and discussed. We feel that it is through exposure to different ideas and opinions that society can make informed choices about their core beliefs.’

‘Vancouver Pride Society is asking the library to go beyond the law and rely on their interpretation of what is legally permitted speech in Canada,’ the VPL said. ‘The limits on freedom of expression must be decided by the legal system, not the library. We value and support our queer and transgender staff as part of the library and are proud of the work they do. We hope to march as an organization again next year, celebrating our queer, transgender and Two-Spirit staff, board and community members and continuing our commitment to LGBTQ2+ equality.’


Category: Library news International