Over a year ago, Canada lifted a 30-year-old prohibition on gay men donating blood. However, Canada Blood Services still includes a ban on blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man in the past five years. That is why the Young Liberals of Canada want a policy that is based on evidence, because no single, loosely defined group should be discriminated against based on generalized statistics, perceptions or prejudices. A blanket ban on sexually active MSM is not merely discriminatory; it's unsafe.
A media biz friend of mine recently forwarded to me a news report on "the world's hottest criminal," Ms. Stephanie Beaudoin; a 21 year old nursing student in Quebec. Complete with a fetching photo of Ms. Beaudoin on a boat in a bikini, the story mentions that she's facing 114 criminal charges for breaking into more than 40 homes last summer.
The trouble is that recent years have invigorated the mayor's brand of hyperbole politics. It pays out in spades for those willing to join the bandwagon and echo the "us versus them" chorus. Its cronies transcend party lines; its victims and resisters fade quickly from memory ("not a leader", anyone?). It is the Ford Nation creed. A new, normalized nastiness has imbued the body politic, harshly demarking who is "one of us" and who is to be cast aside. Its candidates bob in the fickle surf of prejudice or fashionable platitudes, instead of wading into their own vision or fair-minded convictions.
As I find myself on the eve of World Pride weekend, making plans to march in the parade with my partner, my son and step-daughter, and their dads, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that it has been almost a quarter of a century since I came out. Our children are in Grades one and three. They love all of their moms, and my parents are thrilled to be grandparents -- to not one but, now, two kids. I continue to be an advocate, although today it takes different forms. Today, my girlfriend and I dream about getting married in the backyard of our home. I will get married because now I want to. And now I can.
Human Rights Watch's LGBT Director Graeme Reid has characterized the bill as "an official incitement to commit violence" against those even suspected as being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans-gendered. Amend these adjectives to "Tutsi" and you have a familiar precedent for the spirit of the present campaign, if on a smaller scale.
Critics claim the violence in Ukraine has 'cast a shadow' over Sochi. The shadow of death? But the media has already cast one of those, with its endless probing of accidental deaths of athletes in training and competition, or the deaths of athletes' loved ones, or athletes' miscarriages, all to plumb the human spirit's capacity of "labouring under the shadow of death" to earn the life-choosing glory of Olympic victory. The carnage then in Ukraine doesn't cast a shadow on the Sochi Games. Instead it casts a light on something true about us, something we may already know but don't think much about, something Mark Twain was getting at when he said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
While LGBT people in Canada and the United States certainly still face important struggles in attaining equal rights and protection from discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation, their peers in Russia are dealing with a dangerous erosion of their freedom and safety. Though homosexuality has not been illegal in Russia since 1993, in recent years officials have denied permits for Pride parades and intimidated and arrested LGBT activists in the country. In June of 2013, the country passed a new law stating that "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships" aimed at minors was now banned.
At a time when LGBT communities face frightening and growing prejudice from governments overseas, Canada's Bill C-279 serves as a stark moral contrast with the likes of Uganda, Russia, and numerous undemocratic regimes across the Middle East. It is often overlooked that the "T" in LGBT refers to the transgender community, members of which continue to face serious discrimination in some quarters. In supporting C-279 and calling on Parliament to enshrine greater protection for transgender Canadians, I am proud that we continue the legacy today.
Dear Minister Baird, I write to you today regarding the discrimination and attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Russia. I call upon you, in your role as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in addition to continuing to speak out against the homophobic legislation and attacks on LGBT Russians, to institute a visa ban for the originators of the law in question. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development should also identify opportunities to support LGBT activists in Russia.