Pride Hamilton

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Pride Hamilton is an annual LGBTQ Pride event, staged in Hamilton, Ontario. Unlike some Pride events, the event does not currently stage a parade, but includes a week of LGBTQ-oriented community events culminating with a community festival in the city's Gage Park.[1]

The event was launched in 1991 by Hamilton's Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA), but was immediately mired in controversy over mayor Bob Morrow's refusal to issue a civic proclamation.[2] Morrow cited a lack of consensus among Hamilton City Council rather than any personal animus against LGBT people,[2] although councillor Dominic Agostino tried to broker a compromise under which Morrow would write a welcome letter instead of a formal civic proclamation.[3] GALA filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission,[4] which was heard in 1994;[3] in the hearing, Morrow's lawyers mounted the defense that Morrow's actions were not discriminatory as he had no way of knowing that the members of GALA were actually gay, a line of argument which GALA's lawyers dismissed as absurd.[5]

The commission ruled in March 1995 that Morrow's refusal to issue a proclamation was discriminatory, and ordered him to pay $5,000 in damages to GALA and to issue the proclamation in 1995.[6] Morrow issued a proclamation that year,[7] but concurrently announced that he would cease issuing any further civic proclamations for any events at all.[8]

The event was transferred from GALA to a new independent Hamilton Pride committee in 1996.[9] Bob Wade, Morrow's successor as mayor, reinstated civic proclamations, and issued a civic proclamation of the event in 2001.[10]

The 2019 event was disrupted by a violent anti-LGBTQ protest.[11] The Hamilton Police Service subsequently faced criticism, both for taking too long to respond to the immediate situation[12] and for its post-confrontation arrests, which initially targeted people who were defending the event against the violence rather than the instigators of it.[13] Later arrests did include some of the protestors.[14] The community reaction included direct pickets of mayor Fred Eisenberger's home, which Eisenberger characterized as inappropriate harassment of his family and as not representative of the city's LGBTQ community.[15]


  1. ^ "No parade, but Pride is there: Events celebrating LGBTQ people have been going on all week". Hamilton Spectator, June 14, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Hamilton's gays speak out against Morrow". Hamilton Spectator, November 5, 1991.
  3. ^ a b "Morrow takes stand on gay pride: Man accuses mayor of prejudice". Hamilton Spectator, July 5, 1994.
  4. ^ "Gays' complaint against mayor to be heard by rights tribunal". Toronto Star, March 25, 1994.
  5. ^ "Proclamation defence 'absurd', says lawyer". Hamilton Spectator, November 18, 1994.
  6. ^ "Gay Pride ruling watched by cities". Edmonton Journal, March 10, 1995.
  7. ^ "Ontario Mayor to proclaim gay pride week". The Globe and Mail, June 15, 1995.
  8. ^ "At least Hamilton's last proclamation was a meaningful one". Hamilton Spectator, June 23, 1995.
  9. ^ "Pride Day gaining ground in Steel City". Hamilton Spectator, June 21, 1999.
  10. ^ "Gay Pride flap forgotten as city raises Rainbow flag". Hamilton Spectator, June 16, 2001.
  11. ^ "Calls for crackdown of hate groups after violent rally targets Pride Hamilton celebration". Hamilton Spectator, June 18, 2019.
  12. ^ "Police took 'far too long' to respond to 'violent' Pride protest: Pride Hamilton". CBC Hamilton, June 17, 2019.
  13. ^ "Second charge after Hamilton Pride violence sparks further LGBTQ outrage". Hamilton Spectator, June 26, 2019.
  14. ^ "Fifth person arrested in Hamilton Pride violence". CHML, June 28, 2019.
  15. ^ "Mayor says sign posters outside his house don't represent LGBTQ Hamiltonians". CBC Hamilton, June 28, 2019.

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