Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Canadian LGBTQ+ parliamentarians reflect  polarization and  protest

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A Pride flag flies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 8, 2023, during a Pride event. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have long been exposed to discrimination and prejudice in Canada and around the world. They must therefore fight for the protection of their jobs, for their access to various services and for their fundamental rights.

Canada has legalized same-sex marriage nearly two decades ago and the Canadian Human Rights Act has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression for years. p>

However, the past year has brought heated debate over LGBTQ+ rights as it relates to transgender and other gender non-conforming children. New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have adopted policies that require parental permission before using a student's preferred name or pronouns in school.

Egale Canada, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ people and concerns, reported more than 6,400 anti-LGBTQ+ protests and instances of online hate in the first three months of 2023 alone.

The Canadian Press contacted members of the all-party Canadian Pride Caucus on Parliament Hill about the past year when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and discourse. Two Liberal ministers, an NDP MP and a senator spoke about what they see and hear in Ottawa and elsewhere, what they feel and what they are doing about it.

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Federal Minister of Employment, Randy Boissonnault. (Archive photo)

Liberal MP and minister Randy Boissonnault says 2023 has been a difficult year.

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It was a step backwards in the march for LGBTQ rights, he said.

We had to have an emergency fund of 1.5 million just to ensure the protection of Pride [activities].

A quote from Randy Boissonnault, Federal Minister of Employment

The very question of identity has been used as a weapon, he underlined, notably by an American-style policy carried out by Canadian politicians to try to divide the community and separate themselves from it. take from the most vulnerable trans children. He called this reprehensible, adding: For some of these kids, […] school is the only place where they can truly feel like themselves.

In 2024, we should discuss the fact that being an ally is no longer enough, argued Mr. Boissonnault.

These kids need people to be champions. An ally is someone who supports you when you are in the room. A champion is someone who supports you when you are not there.

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Senator René Cormier. (File photo)

The Senate is the safest place for me as a queer person because we deal with rights. And before becoming a senator, I didn't know how important rights are, which seems ridiculous in a way, admitted René Cormier, independent senator and co-chair of the Canadian Pride Caucus. /p>

He believes that it is important for younger generations to see that you can both be from the LGBTQ community and be a senator , said Mr. Cormier, who was appointed on the recommendation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016.

In Canada, we are really privileged, even if there are still a lot of problems. […] There are still a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be from this community. People think we're too loud, [that] we go out too much, he said.

But I think it's important to stand up and speak. Silence is not a solution.

A quote from René Cormier, senator

Mr. Cormier described the current period as polarizing and devoid of nuance. He said there is an urgent need for better education about what it means to be transgender. He argued that excluding these discussion topics from the sex education curriculum in schools will not solve the problem.

“I find it really disturbing that as a country we put children in the middle of political games,” he said. There is a lot of work to be done on this.

This work must be done together, beyond generations and identities, he said. -He underlines. Because at the end of the day, we are all human beings and we want to be happy.

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Randall Garrison, MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (File photo)

In June, the MP for the British Columbia riding of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, Randall Garrison, released a report on the situation of transgender and gender diverse people in Canada with researcher Dylana Thompson. Its 29 recommendations include ways to strengthen the LGBTQ+ community so it can respond to hate.

In the face of hatred, we, as a community, cannot always rely on others to defend us. But if you're poor or unemployed or sick, or if you have to deal with all of those things, you don't have much resilience left to deal with the hate on top of that, said Mr. Garrison, who takes his retirement as an MP.

If you suffer from all the other disadvantages associated with Being trans or non-binary makes it difficult to even form an organization that could get a public voice, because you're too busy trying to survive.

A quote from NDP MP Randall Garrison

There has been a resurgence of hatred towards LGBTQ+ people online and in person, a- he pointed out. He said a family in his riding had their Pride flag torn up and set on fire in front of their home. But he also noted that police and the local mayor acted quickly.

So while I've seen an increase in hate, I've also seen an improvement in the response to hate from public institutions, he said.

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Seamus O'Regan, Federal Minister of Labor. (File photo)

Seamus O'Regan wrote a deeply personal speech while flying to Geneva to take part in a meeting of International Labor Organization earlier this year.

At the time, some countries in Africa and the Middle East asked the United Nations body to remove from its budget any mention relating to the protection of workers based on their sexual orientation and identity. of gender.

I am a vulnerable worker. I am Canada's Minister of Labor, but I am gay and married. I would not be able to work, I would be imprisoned or I would be sentenced to death if I had been born in some of the Member States [whose representatives] preceded me to this rostrum, said Mr O' Regan at the assembly.

Mr. O'Regan, Liberal MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador, said he has always spoken about how LGBTQ+ rights can sometimes seem tenuous given that these rights were obtained during his lifetime.

He also said that being openly gay on Parliament Hill forces people to acknowledge his presence.

I exist: I am not a theoretical entity. If you want to remove or diminish gay rights in this country, then you will have to look me in the eye to do it.

A quote from Seamus O'Regan, Federal Minister of Labour

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">He stressed that as minister he can make legislative or regulatory changes which he believes could be useful when he wishes ;this is federal jurisdiction.

However, in the provincial and territorial spheres – and even on the international scene – I sometimes have to rely on moral arguments, he argued. I will and I did it without hesitation.

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