Toronto defeats Stockholm to win hosting duties for World Pride event in 2014

TORONTO - Ontario's first openly gay cabinet minister is among those beaming with pride after Toronto was chosen to host the World Pride event in 2014.

TORONTO - Ontario's first openly gay cabinet minister is among those beaming with pride after Toronto was chosen to host the World Pride event in 2014.

"In over 29 years of Pride Week celebrations, the world has taken notice of Toronto as a city that celebrates diversity," Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman said in a statement.

Delegates at the InterPride Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida selected Toronto over its main rival Stockholm on Sunday to host the international political and cultural event, which promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Toronto captured 77 votes to Stockholm's 61 in the first round of voting, eliminating Stockholm from contention. But Toronto needed a two-thirds majority to secure the international gathering, so a second vote of yes or no was held and delegates gave Toronto a 78 per cent endorsement.

"We are delighted to have been awarded this opportunity to bring the world to Toronto," said Mark Singh, chair of the World Pride committee.

"In this exceptionally diverse city, the advent of a festival like this is an opportunity to highlight the acceptance of the queer community by Canadians, and to raise awareness of other countries where queers are still discriminated against," said Singh.

Hosting World Pride Week will not only highlight important issues in human rights and equality on an international level, but will also bring other globally celebrated events to one of Ontario's largest cultural attractions, said Smitherman.

"It will highlight those countries where similar freedoms aren't available and where human rights abuses against queer people still occur," said Crystal Moore, a spokeswoman for Pride Toronto.

The provisional program for the festival includes an opening ceremony with a parade of nations and an international human rights conference.

An AIDS candlelight vigil is also planned along with three parades including a Trans March, a Dyke March and Pride Parade. Cultural events will be scheduled to celebrate Canada Day and the U.S. Independence Day, and a closing ceremony will be held following the parade, organizers said.

Pride Toronto officials said that this summer's Pride Week drew an estimated one million people to Toronto and contributed more than $100 million to Ontario's economy.

Organizers estimated World Pride could be five times larger.

A delegation of 10 people went to Florida to present Toronto's bid, including representatives from Pride Toronto, Tourism Toronto and Toronto police.

The Toronto event will be the fourth scheduled World Pride since the event's inception in Rome in 2000.

The next one is set for just prior to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, England in 2012.

 
 
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