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.
Call me a slow learner, but I suddenly realized why there have to be gay pride parades at all. It does not matter if it is a big city, small city, Canada or the U.S. There are not enough straight people supporting homosexual rights. And I couldn't help but wonder when the day will come that there will be no need for a Pride Parade.
The youth I have spoken to over the years have described Toronto's shelter system as a dangerous place for LGBTQ youth because of prolific homophobia and transphobia. I have heard stories of youth living in parks because they did not feel safe in the shelter system due to daily threats of homophobia and transphobia.
Let's not let our fight for equal rights be clouded by the fact that LGBT people can get married across our great nation (and a number of U.S. states). In many countries, homosexuality is still illegal and punishable by imprisonment or death. People who are still fighting for basic rights and freedoms need our help.
Since Manitoba's religious schools receive over 50 per cent of their funding from the province, they are all being mandated to comply with the proposed legislation: Bill 18 -- required to implement an anti-bullying strategy that includes gay-straight alliances. Our rights cannot exist in a vacuum, isolated from the reality around them. Rights engage with other rights. Not only does our Charter have a built-in provision to permit the limiting of rights in certain situations, but also, the transactional nature of our public lives dictates that different rights will come into contact other rights. Those who oppose Bill 18 should read the Charter in its entirety; it doesn't stop at freedom of religion, nor is there a hierarchy of rights.
"As an 80-year-old butch lesbian, Stella may be an unusual movie hero, but her central dilemma, her goal, is to just keep her family together. Gay or straight, conservative or liberal, god-fearing or agnostic, everybody can relate to that simple quest. People root for her, they want Stella to win. That she has no self-censoring mechanism helps -- we'd all love to be that socially inept and honest from time to time."