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CUPE members, in the Vancouver area, showed up in force on August 1 for this year’s Pride parade celebrating the strength and diversity of the Lower Mainland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities.

This year’s theme, “Liberation,” highlighted the political struggles of the queer rights movement. The Multi-Union Pride float featured a symbolic “Oppression” cage from which parade participants called for an end to homophobic discrimination.

The theme was especially poignant this year, in light of several high-profile attacks on gay men that have led some to brand Vancouver—despite the city’s progressive history and multicultural makeup—as the gay-bashing capital of Canada.

CUPE activists interviewed before the parade called for more and better diversity education at the K-12 level as the best solution for combating the kind of homophobia that leads to gay bashing.

But if the size, age range, and cultural diversity of the crowd were any indication—this year’s crowd was estimated at 600,000 people—then that effort is off to a good start.