photo submitted


Vancouver Pride Society president John Boychuk, left, with his partner at the 2006 Pride Festival in Vancouver.

Organizers of Vancouver Pride are tackling human rights issues this year in a new campaign to help end gay discrimination worldwide.

John Boychuk, Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) president, said the campaign also aims to remind British Columbians about the strides the gay rights movement has made since Vancouver’s first Pride nearly 30 years ago.

“We (in Vancouver) have a lot of rights and freedoms that people are recognizing around the world,” said Boychuk. “When we looked at what was going on with human rights in Eastern European countries we were appalled.”

“The first Vancouver Pride parade 29 years ago started out … with people with bags over their heads and having things thrown at them,” said Boychuk. “That’s exactly what’s happening again but in another part of the world.”

To help promote an international mandate for change the festival has invited gay-rights activists from countries where discrimination is still overt.

Dmitri Bartenev of Russia and Tomasz Baczkowski of Poland will be presented with signed declarations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights to present to their cities’ mayors.