Dear Supreme Court of Canada, While I personally find Mr. Whatcott's message repugnant, I am nonetheless in favour of his being able to peacefully express his religious and political opinion without being silenced by the government and forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages. (I'm a little like Voltaire that way, though your decision has moved me to blog rather than to put my life on the line.) Canada, which will lose more in the breadth and honesty of public expression and debate as a result of your opinion than you seem to realize.
Some conservative Muslim leaders, like their Christian counterparts, are disseminating a letter expressing the right of parents to withdraw their children from course content that conflicts with their understanding of faith. The letter expresses concerns about introducing children to sex-education and the realities of queer families.
Earlier I was called out for using the words "retarded" and "handicapped" in a couple of tweets which referenced Yunel Escobar, the Blue Jays shortstop in hot water for writing the words "Tu ere maricon" ("You are a faggot") in his black eye. I offended someone. I apologized, and after an honest, open, and level- headed conversation concluded that I should be more conscientious. I wasn't foolish enough to write the words across my face, but still, for what I did in the first place, I suppose I'm pretty stupid as well.
Imagine walking into your workplace tomorrow morning, grabbing a marker from the supply closet, walking into the boardroom and writing the words "You are a Faggot" on the company white board. How do you think the boss would react? The Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escoba wrote those words in his black eye and received a three-game suspension. Three games? For offending every homosexual watching at home? For telling every athlete out there that even in 2012 you shouldn't feel comfortable coming out of the closet? The Jays should be ashamed of themselves.
A single murder or suicide of a queer youth is way too many. Fortunately, across the globe, both progressive and conservative Muslims, while differing on same-sex unions, have come out to strongly condemn homophobia in all its ugly forms. Muslim law has always contained majority and minority opinions especially on controversial issues. As such, in contrast to conservative Muslims, progressive Muslims fully support same-sex unions. For them, the Islamic emphasis on justice and compassion outmatches classical rules any day.
Many queer activists rise above their circumstances and assert their voice for justice that is not limited to LGBT issues. Belonging to a vulnerable minority, they understand prejudice and can empathize with "others." Queer Muslim activists, despite facing immense prejudice, continue their work quietly and with dignity. Their work ends up helping the very Muslim communities that so strongly shun them. They truly know the meaning of spiritual chivalry, to practice good without expecting the same in return.
Another Canada Day, another successful Pride Parade along the streets of downtown Toronto. As in previous years one of the largest parades of its kind saw hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets. The Parade itself covers less than a mile or two of Toronto's streets but the geography is far less important than the message it sends. It was only 30 years ago this February that Toronto Police raided the city's gay bathhouses, arresting more than 300 innocent men.
The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival has just begun and this year marks a significant shift in queer filmmaking: a movement away from the simple "coming out" story, and away from films that play up gay stereotypes because it really is no longer "fine" if we do it ourselves. Films with LGBT content are becoming just that: films with LGBT content, versus "gay movies."
In cottage country, and even on Toronto's beaches up to the mid 1950s, it was common to see signs that read "No Dogs or Jews Allowed." Though we, as a nation, have made great strides in the name of human rights for all, we cannot be complacent. There cannot be justice for Jews if there is not justice for everyone.
The World Championships of figure skating start on Wednesday, but figure skating's gender roles are running far behind the times. Women skaters were forced to wear skirts in competition until recently, and the women's long program is thirty seconds shorter than the men's, which has real implications in terms of the scoring.
For a man who declared upon his election that "Toronto is now open for business" -- Pride, with its plethora of corporate donors, is one of the few events that does just that -- opens our city's doors for businesses and tourists alike. After all -- did we not elect Rob Ford because of his supposed knowledge of fiscal responsibility?