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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

Toronto’s Pride Parade Will Pay Tribute to Bruce McArthur’s Victims

The typical sea of rainbow will turn to black to honour eight lost members of the LGBTQ community…

Alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur was arrested in January in connection with the disappearances of a number of men who frequented the city’s gay village. He has since been charged with eight counts of first degree murder as police investigate and uncover evidence—including human remains—that he did in fact murder the missing men.

McArthur has been charged with the murders of Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, Andrew Kinsman, 49, Selim Esen, 44, Abdulbasir Faizi, 44, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, Dean Lisowick, 47, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Majeed Kayhan, 58. He is alleged to have committed the murders between 2010 and 2017 using gay dating websites such as Silver Daddies to meet and target vulnerable gay men, especially immigrant men of colour.

Many in Toronto’s LGBTQ community have been claiming there was a serial killer operating in the gay village for years. Some even recognize McArthur as a regular at a few bars in the area. They consider all McArthur’s victims very much a part of their community, which is why this year’s Pride parade, taking place on Sunday June 24th, will include a tribute to those men.

“At the end of the parade, the community will be invited to march in silence, wearing black,” Pride Toronto Executive Director Olivia Nuamah told CBC. “Even though we understand that we’re celebrating, we also need to deal with some hard truths about the LGBTQ community and the issues of safety that we still suffer. It’s one of the ways we want to commemorate the death of eight men in our community.” Volunteers at Pride events will also wear black to recognize the community’s loss.

Toronto’s LGBTQ community has long had a strained relationship with the police force, and many believe that concerns over a possible serial killer was ignored for too long. Chief Mark Saunders has launched an independent review into why it took police so long to take notice of the pattern of missing gay, mostly immigrant men.

Earlier this year, Pride Toronto requested that the Toronto police withdraw their application to march in the 2018 parade citing the handling of the McArthur investigation as part of the reason. Toronto police were banned from marching in uniform during the 2017 parade after a protest by Black Lives Matter during the 2016 parade.

Although the police wanted to be part of the parade to start mending their relationship with the LGBTQ community, they did agree to withdraw their application. The impact the Bruce McArthur investigation will continue to be felt across the LGBTQ community long after Pride, but this year, the innocent men whose lives were lost will get the attention they deserve.

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