Spirits of Portage Pride paraders not dampened by protesters who tell them they're 'going to hell'

Spirits of Portage Pride paraders not dampened by protesters who tell them they're 'going to hell'

The Pride parade was back on the streets of Portage la Prairie Saturday and, for the third straight year, so were the protesters.

Callie McArthur, one of the event’s organizers, estimated more than 200 members of the LGBTQ community braved sweltering temperatures to celebrate the third annual Pride parade in the city, 83 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Not included in that number were the approximately 20 people who showed up to protest the march.

“Typically what they do is they congregate around when we finish and they sing us hymns and hand us out little booklets about why we’re going to hell,” McArthur said Saturday morning, shortly after the start of the parade.

“It’s pretty upsetting. I understand that they have every right to be doing what they’re doing, but the issue here is that there’s no need to have a ‘religious pride’ or a ‘straight pride’ because they’ve never been really discriminated against or shunned like this [LGBTQ] community has.”

McArthur identified a particular local church as being responsible for Saturday’s protests. Attempts by CBC to contact that church were not successful.

Steinbach Pride organizer Michelle McHale speaks before the Portage Pride parade on Saturday. (Submitted by Callie McArthur)

Apart from the protesters, whose numbers didn’t appear to reach the 50-plus they encountered last year, McArthur said Portage Pride marchers felt the full support of the city.

She said Mayor Irvine Ferris spoke beforehand and members of the RCMP joined them on the route.

“We also have a little pony … dressed up as a unicorn,” McArthur added.

Regardless of any opposition they might face, McArthur said organizers and participants in Portage Pride are committed to keeping the march alive in future years, “no matter what, rain or shine.”

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Published at Sat, 07 Jul 2018 16:44:45 -0400