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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Toronto's 2008 Pride Festival has African theme


Fighting for the rights of queer people has always been a core message of Toronto's Pride Festival and after 29 years in the making, this year's theme is going back to its roots.

Pride executive director Tracey Sandilands says the 2009 "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" theme is emphasizing that as much as we have rights for queer people now, we can't assume that they will always be there.

"They can be taken away at anytime, the tide can be turned and for that reason we cannot stop and we will not stop fighting for equality for queer people all over the world," she says.

Sandilands says what's happening south of the border - California's ban against gay marriages - is not the only motivation for this year's theme, because there's many countries around the world where homosexuality is still criminalized.

The year's Grand Marshall is transgender lesbian activist Victor Juliet Mukasa from Uganda, a country where homosexuality is criminalized.

"This year our focus is specifically on Africa, and we look at what people in the continent go through just to be out."

"Human rights for queer people is a big part of our message. We have a focus on keeping an eye on what's happening around the world," Sandilands says.

As important as this year's theme is, the expanding theme of inclusivity is more evident than ever before.

Sandilands says there's an array of events for men, women, transsexuals and a specific family pride section to make the festival "family friendly."

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