It’s been a big year for the LGBTQ2+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirited) community.
Pride will always trump prejudice
In late June, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) made an historic, albeit long overdue, decision that makes same- sex marriage legal across the country.
While same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005, the SCOTUS decision was a huge victory for civil rights everywhere. And with Pride season amongst us, it’s definitely cause for a party.
Here in British Columbia, Pride lets us celebrate the LGBTQ2+ community’s hard-won victories. It also reminds usthat there’s still a lot of work to be done to address prejudice both at home and abroad.
This year, both the Victoria Pride Festival (which was last month) and the Vancouver Pride Society are part of the Trans Equality Now (TEN) campaign. There is no explicit mention of gender identity in either the Canada Human Rights Actor British Columbia Human Rights Code, and TRANS Equality Now is working to turn that around by having people sign a petition that calls for the passage of federal and provincial legislation that protects gender identity and expression.
Canada has come close to getting such protections enshrined. In 2013, the House of Commons passed a Bill-C79, a bill that NDP MP Randall Garrison proposed to protect gender identity and gender expression. But the Conservative-run Senate gutted it earlier this year, effectively killing it.
Today, as we go to press on the eve of Vancouver's Pride celebrations (also the B.C. Day long weekend), the BC Liberals are notably absent from the landmark celebration of Pride weekend. In late July, the Vancouver Pride Society banned the BC Liberals from participating in the 2015 Vancouver Pride parade because the party sadly refused to sign the trans rights pledge.
Closer to the streets, discrimination often means queer youth face higher rates of homelessness. Some are pushed out of their homes by parents who won’t accept their sexual orientation or gender identity. A 2006 study by the McCreary Centre Society found that of all homeless youth (individuals 12-24 years old) in B.C., one in four of identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning their sexuality.
Discrimination isn’t just a debate about opinions or beliefs. Discrimination against a certain group of people results in higher rates of poverty and homelessness. It pushes people to the margins and leaves them vulnerable to violence and abuse. It results in poorer levels of health and well-being. It is completely unacceptable.
There is a lot of work to be done on how our society can better protect and respect the LGBTQ2+ community. But Pride is an occasion to celebrate what milestones are possible when we recognize and celebrate all dimensions of our humanity. As the SCOTUS decision shows, love will win.
Happy Pride, everyone.