CLC Statement on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)

CLC Newsletter: Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Twenty-one years ago on this day homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO). This victory was a historic step towards recognizing freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity as a fundamental basic human right. Today the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) stands in solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) community in the struggle to end homophobia and transphobia.

This year has been witness to many victories for the LGBT community and its allies. Concerns about homophobic bullying have led to a groundswell of support for better policies and support systems in schools and workplaces. Bill C-389, which would amend the Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression, passed third reading in the House of Commons. Thunder Bay, Ontario will host its first Pride celebrations, and Vancouver, British Columbia will host the second annual North American OutGames.

We still have many challenges.

Bill C-389 had not been heard in the Senate before an election was called, so will need to make its way through the next Parliament. With the retirement of MP Bill Siksay, who worked hard for many years on this legislation, we will need to find a new champion in the House of Commons.

Despite the work that has been done to eliminate homophobia and transphobia, crimes and hatred against the LGBT community still exist. In 2010, over 76 countries around the world have deemed relationships by same sex couples as illegal and in some areas being a member of the LGBT community is still punishable by death as capital punishment. This year is sadly marked by the horrific murder of David Kato Kisule, social and political activist for Uganda and the greater global LGBT community. His death is a reminder of the extreme challenges many LGBT people face. Although we have made some strides, violence against LGBT people still persists.

May 17 is also a day to reach out to those who are particularly vulnerable to homophobic and transphobic bullying. We recognize the dedicated teachers and students who fight these injustices everyday by forming Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs), teach anti-bullying and promote acceptance of all gender identities in the school. LGBT students still face extreme cases of bullying which lead to dropping out of school, social isolation and, tragically, death and suicide.

Canada's labour movement is proud of its part in fighting for equality for our LGBT members – in the workplace and in the broader community. We are committed to continuing the fight for LGBT rights in the workplace, including legislation and collective agreement language on workplace bullying and violence. The CLC will continue to work with our allies to mobilize and fight to have the full rights for trans peoples amended under Canada’s Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Today the Canadian Labour Congress re-affirms our commitment to ending homophobia and transphobia in the workplace, communities and society. We will continue to work with our affiliates and our allies to challenge and eliminate all forms of discrimination.