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Toronto council candidate says Pride not about nudity

John Nunziata also defends Doug Ford against homophobia allegations

Some nearly nude revellers march in the Toronto Pride parade this year. City council candidate John Nunziata says that Pride is not about the nudity. Credit: HG Watson

City council candidate John Nunziata believes the Pride parade would be better without the nudity.

In an interview with the National Post, Nunziata, who is running in Ward 12, North York, defended Doug Ford against allegations of homophobia and then, unprompted, told reporter Richard Warnica that when he took his then 13-year-old son to Pride, they saw nude people — specifically, “men with their penises hanging out and their scrotums.” He added that “gay pride” is not about nudity.

He expanded on his views in an interview with Xtra, explaining that while he supports Pride, he believes that some aspects of it might be disturbing for a parent to have their children to see. “There’s some [nudity] that wouldn’t bother many people, but you know when it crosses a line — as a parent, that was my concern,” he says, adding that he wouldn’t want his daughter to see men naked or dressed in leather.

“Pride is not about nudity; it’s not about going out there with leathers on and walking nude and the emphasis on sexuality,” Nunziata says. “Pride is about appreciating, recognizing, accepting and showing to the world that it’s a positive thing. It’s not a negative thing, and we should be celebrating.”

His comments stem from suggestions from the public that Doug Ford might be homophobic. Ford told reporters in February 2014 that he does not support men running down Yonge Street “buck naked,” echoing Nunziata’s own concerns.

Nunziata, a Ford family friend, decided to run for council after Doug declared his intention to run for mayor in his sick brother’s stead, according to reports. He says that the Ford brothers don’t agree on every issue. “I would certainly encourage Doug Ford, should he be elected, to attend [Pride], as well, and participate fully in the festivities.”

Nunziata also argues that if there were less nudity at Pride, it may draw larger crowds. Official attendance numbers from this year’s WorldPride celebration have not been released, but it is estimated that hundreds of thousands attended the parade on June 29. Sean Hillier, the co-chair of the Pride Toronto board of directors, says that the final attendance numbers will astonish people.

Though Hillier had not read Nunziata’s comments, he says there remains a small minority who take issue with nudity at the Pride parade. For instance, in March 2014, Toronto District School Board trustee Sam Sotiropoulos tried to pass a motion to have the Toronto Police Service enforce public nudity laws at the WorldPride parade.

“Nudity at Pride is probably the smallest component of it, but it is still a very important one,” Hillier says. “It’s not about people going out to be naked to be sexual; it’s about freedom of expression.”

While public nudity is illegal in Canada, nudity that is part of a rally or demonstration — like the Pride parade — is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, Canadian courts consider being nude in an area that has been specifically set aside for the purpose, such as a nude beach or nudist camp, legal.

Nunziata says that he will not raise nudity at Pride as an issue should he be elected to council Oct 27 and that he will continue to attend Pride celebrations.