On June 1, 2023, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, Members of Council and representatives from Pride Toronto will raise the Progress Pride flag at the City Hall, podium roof at 12:30 p.m. In addition, a flag raising ceremony will be held on June 1 at 9 a.m. at Mel Lastman Square, at the North York Civic Centre, Albert Campbell Square, at the Scarborough Civic Centre and Etobicoke Civic Centre. The Progress Pride flag will also be raised this year at all civic centres to kick off Pride Month.
Pride Month will be proclaimed by Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie. Pride Month brings Torontonians together to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of Toronto’s Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer and Questioning communities (2SLGBTQ+). Torontonians are encouraged to reach out, connect to support each other and celebrate together.
The City is committed to addressing the unique challenges facing 2SLGBTQ+ communities to build a more inclusive and equitable city. The City has a long history of support for 2SLGBTQ+ communities and recognizes that they include some of the most vulnerable populations in our city.
There are programs and initiatives in place that promote or support diversity and acceptance of 2SLGBTQ+ communities among residents and City staff. The City funds community agencies such as the 519 and also typically supports organizations and events such as Pride Toronto and the Pride Parade that honours Pride’s history, highlights Toronto talent and fosters community.
It is important to recognize that 2SLGBTQ+ people have existed throughout human history and across all cultures. European and Christian colonization of many parts of the world imposed their views onto the peoples they colonized. This included prescribing strict heterosexual and male-female gender standards. As is the case with many non-mainstream groups in society, 2SLGBTQ+ people are often singled out and persecuted.
The North American 2SLGBTQ+ rights movement that shapes modern understanding of 2SLGBTQ+ people was part of many social justice movements that pushed back against power structures starting in the middle of the 20th century.
The practical and symbolic social justice milestones shared below illustrate the correcting of wrongs, not the giving of extra rights. As an example, Canadians over 50 years old lived during a time where police could arrest, jail, and convict an adult for their private behaviors within their own homes.
While progress has been made, 2SLGBTQ+ people still face a great deal of inequity and exclusion today in Canada and around the world.
1971 – Toronto’s first “Gay Day Picnic” was held at Hanlan’s Point Beach on the Toronto Islands on August 1 and was organized by a group of gay and lesbian activists.
1981 – Four bathhouses in Toronto are raided by the Toronto Police Service in Operation Soap. The event is now considered one of the crucial turning points in Toronto, and Canadian, 2SLGBTQ2+ history, as it led to demonstrations, protests and community activism. The protest march is generally recognized as the first Toronto Pride event.
1991 – Toronto City Council officially proclaimed Pride Day (part of anti-discriminatory measures). Kyle Rae is elected as the first openly gay member of Toronto City Council.
1993 – Rainbow Flag is first raised on the courtesy flagpole and Pride Week is proclaimed and presented as part of the ceremony to Pride Toronto.
1995 – Barbara Hall becomes the first Toronto Mayor to march in Pride Parade
2000 – Women’s Bathhouse Raid: an all-female Pussy Palace party held at Club Toronto in September was raided by six male police officers.
2003 – The City of Toronto adopts a new Vision Statement on Access, Equity and Diversity that reads in part “…the City will create an environment of equality in the government and in the community for all people regardless of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, disability, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, same sex partnership, age, marital status, family status, immigrant status, receipt of public assistance, political affiliation, religious affiliation, level of literacy, language and/or socio-economic status.”
2005 – On the 25th anniversary of Toronto’s Pride Week, Bill Blair becomes the first Toronto Chief of Police to participate in the parade.
2010 – Kristyn Wong-Tam is elected as the first openly lesbian and racialized member of Toronto City Council.
2014 – The City of Toronto hosts World Pride in June (making Toronto the first City in North America to host World Pride). The Rainbow Flag flies at Toronto City Hall to protest anti-gay laws in Russia in relation to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
2015 – Toronto hosts the first ever Pride House at a Pan American Games event.
2016 – Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders issues an official statement of regret for the Operation Soap raids of 1981. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marches in Toronto’s Pride parade, becoming the first PM of Canada to attend a Pride event. The Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter stages a sit-in as the honoured group of the parade, demanding more funding to events for racialized people at Pride, and removal of police presence as participants in future Pride festivals in Toronto.
2017 – Toronto Police Service raised the Rainbow Flag over its headquarters.
2019 – Toronto City Council approves the formation of an 2SLGBTQ+ Council Advisory Body.
1969 – Canada decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act (received Royal Assent on June 27).
1987 – Sexual orientation is included in the Ontario Human Rights Code as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
2003 – Ontario’s Court of Appeal rules that the Canadian law on traditional marriage is unconstitutional. Ontario becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to do so and becomes the first city in North America to perform same-sex marriages.
2005 – Canada legalizes same-sex marriage.
2012 – Ontario includes gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
2016 – Canada includes gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
2017 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers a formal apology in the House of Commons to 2SLGBTQ+ people affected by Canadian policies between 1950 and 1990 including civil servants, military members and criminalized Canadians who endured discrimination and injustice based on their sexual orientation.
The Rainbow Flag was first raised on a temporary flagpole on Parliament Hill June 1, 2016.
2017 – The Pride Flag was again raised on June 14, 2017 to mark the passage of Bill C 16 by the Senate. In addition, the Transgender Flag and the Canada Rainbow 150 flag were also raised.
2018 – Flag Raising Ceremony for Pride Month on June 20, 2018 on the Front Lawn Parliament Hill with the Prime Minister.
2014 – The Rainbow Flag is first flown as an exceptional case. The Rainbow Flag also flew during the Sochi Olympic games in February of that same year (the subject of a special motion in the House).
2015 – In 2015, the House approved a motion which added the Rainbow Flag to the list of approved flags – making it an annual event. As per this motion the Rainbow Flag is flown for the duration of Pride week.
2016 – The Transgender Flag was fist flown in November 2016, to mark Transgender Day of Awareness.
2017 – The Rainbow Flag, with the Transgender Flag underneath it, was flown during pride week. This is the only time on which 2 flags were flown from the same pole. Staff initially denied the request as it runs counter to accepted flag protocol but were overruled by the 3 political parties. The Transgender flag was also flown in November 2017.
Hang a flag in your window.
Check in with 2SLGBTQ+ folks in your lives and each other.
Join Pride Toronto’s 2023 programming.
2SLGBTQ+ issues don’t go away after Pride Month is over. Turn a monthly tradition into year-round activism. Stay informed about key 2SLGBTQ+ Awareness dates, participate and give back to your community. There are many ways to volunteer through organizations such as The 519.