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Doug Judson, co-chair of Borderland Pride, at 2024 Pride Week flag-raising, May 31, 2024. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

Pride group co-chair takes stand at Human Rights Tribunal

By Randy Thoms Jun 4, 2024 | 4:28 PM

A Human Rights Tribunal between Borderland Pride and the Township of Emo is underway.

It is over Emo council’s decision in 2020 not to support a proclamation recognizing Pride Week or fly the Pride Flag in the community at the request of the Pride group.

Co-chair of Borderland Pride, Doug Judson, was the only witness questioned on the first day of the hearing conducted online.

He was asked about previous resolutions that Emo council supported in 2018 and 2019.

Both were supplied by Borderland Pride.

In the 2019 resolution, many sections referencing 2SLGBTQQIA+ people were removed by council.

Judson says he felt the township deliberately watered down the proclamation to avoid any acknowledgement of the 2SLGBTQQIA community.

The Emo defeated a proclamation in 2020, which led to a human rights complaint.

Judson was asked why he took a legal route instead of communicating with members of council or trying to educate them.

Judson replied that the case serves an important need and addresses an important issue.

He says the case is not about him but rather about 2SLGBTQQIA+ people living in small communities across the country.

He added that it should not be his job to “turn over every rock” to educate someone, and that asks a lot from people to educate someone after hearing disparaging remarks being made.

In their opening remarks, lawyers for the municipally indicated they would show that there was no intent of hate expressed during council’s discussions and that efforts were made to consider alternatives.

The tribunal is expected to hear from an expert witness and an area resident on Tuesday.

Emo Mayor Harold McQuaker, Councillor Harrold Boven and former Councillor Warren Toles are also scheduled to testify.

Earlier in the hearing, the Tribunal ruled on Borderland Pride having standing in the case but denied the Northern Ontario Pride Network involvement because of a lack of evidence supporting the group’s connection to the matter.