Seattle, Washington – The Seattle Pride Parade said it is banning police officers from marching in uniform in the parade. That policy was first introduced last year according to The Seattle Times.
Officers from Seattle and other jurisdictions can march in the parade out of uniform, organizers said, and there will be uniformed Seattle police officers at the parade for safety reasons, as required by a city permit.
Supporters of the ban argued that law enforcement, even those who identify as LGBTQ+, should not be visibly present at an event with origins linked to the Stonewall Riots in 1969, sparked by a police raid at a gay club. But opponents say LGBTQ+ police officers marching in uniform reflect progress made in diversifying the rank and file of the Seattle Police Department.
Pride parades around the United States are held on the last Sunday in June in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots, which fanned the flames of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
The department argued Seattle Pride’s decision last year threatened progress made to diversify the police force. Critics raised concerns that continued distrust in law enforcement could mean some LGTBQ+ individuals may be less likely to report being victims of hate crimes. Officers likened the policy to forcing them “back in the closet,” Diaz wrote.
In a statement Friday, Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan said the banning of uniformed officers from marching at Pride events “is disgusting, bigoted, discriminatory and contradicts our community’s beautiful inclusive LGBTQ message.”
“SPOG members took an oath to serve our entire community equally and without discrimination,” Solan said in a statement. “It’s a shame to see that the commitment to equality and inclusion doesn’t flow in both directions.”