Hong Kong solidarity group was pulled from Montreal Pride Parade over threats
Activists supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong say they were disinvited from marching in Montreal's Pride parade this month after supporters of China's communist government threatened to derail the event over the group's presence.
Henry Lam says he and husband Guy Ho wanted to march in the Aug. 18 event with their allies to express their support for fellow same-sex couples fighting for freedom and marriage equality in Hong Kong.
"I thought we were safe because there's a Pride team, security, police everywhere," said Lam. "Instead they took out the one who got bullied."
But Lam says the authorization for their group, Action Free Hong Kong Montreal, was yanked a day before the event after police reportedly informed organizers of a threat to sabotage the parade by protesters opposed to the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.
Pride Montreal vice-president Jean-Sebastien Boudreault confirmed organizers revoked the group's permission to participate after receiving at least 10 threats from people opposed to the Hong Kong group's presence but said he was unsure which police force told them about the threats.
He says the decision was made for security reasons and to ensure the event could take place without being derailed by geopolitical concerns unrelated to LGBTQ rights.
"You will understand that, given the presence of public figures, including prime ministers, we unfortunately have to remove you from the parade for security reasons. The police authorities have been very clear on this issue," Pride organizers wrote to Lam in an email. "Our policy of not interfering in geopolitical conflicts requires us to avoid any confrontation on this day, which is so important for communities of sexual and gender diversity."
Lam moved to Canada eight years ago so he could marry his partner as gay marriage remains illegal in Hong Kong. The couple made a documentary about their wedding that was screened throughout Asia, including Hong Kong. He said the incident has left him saddened and made him worry for his security at future events. While Action Free Hong Kong held a small protest on the same day as the parade, Lam said he hopes that next year organizers will reconsider or take extra security precautions to allow his group to march.