The LGBTQ+ community is a community that has faced numerous challenges and hardships simply for existing. Since the beginning of time, there has always been a love that exists between same-sex couples, gender dysphoria, and indigenous traditions that show transgender individiuals as respected, normalized people. Although the LGBTQ+ has always existed, there has not always been a respected outlook on this community. As European settlers came to Canada, the Indigenous values slowly began to die out due to the integration of Christianity and with this, being LGBTQ+ was seen as abnormal. When something new is shown to people, people instantly fear it and see it as wrong or immoral, which is what caused the legal system to integrate laws against the LGBTQ+ community. As we move into the current times, we have been able to witness the slow integration of legal rights and equality acts set in place for the LGBTQ+ community, a slow step towards full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. In this site, you will find information about Canada's actions towards supporting equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
"You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights."
Marsha P. Johnson
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a legal document that states the rights and freedoms of those who live in Canada. Within this Charter, we see a specific section that covers equality rights, section 15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (2) Section (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. Section 15, the equality section, did not include sexual orientation, meaning that it did not protect people who defined themselves as anything aside from heterosexual, however, this changed in 1996. This change meant that individuals were now protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Along with this inclusion, “sex”, within the same section, has been interpreted to include transgender and nonbinary individuals.
UDHR Within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we find a standard set in place by the UN that the member countries must strive to live up to in order to provide equality for their citizens. The document lays out every single right humans are entitled to within different sections called articles, and within Article 2 we can find the passage that mentions LGBTQ+ attributes. "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty." This article has been confirmed to include sexual orientation and gender identity, meaning that the LGBTQ+ must be seen as equals on an international level.
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS Just by looking at both the Charter and the UDHR, we see that Canada has indeed shown to be a moving force in providing equality for the LGBTQ+ community in legal terms, however, why has it not been enough? Althought Canada has stated its rights and internationally made an agreement to provide equality to its LGBTQ+ citizens, we still see a lack of legal protection for said community. Police target both people of colour and transgender citizens, showing that the people that we as citizens are supposed to trust and respect do not see us as equals. There needs to be a clear legislation set in place that protects the LGBTQ+ community from this brutality, as well as a police reform since the police system itself has shown to be an extremely flawed system. Along with this, specifically looking at Ontario, we see how the the gender and sexuality spectrum have begun to be taken out of school curriculums, creating a cycle of pushing ignorance into children and teenagers, There is also something that needs to be done about the slow social change that is occuring, a change that pits the LGBTQ+ community as the butt of a joke or as something that should not be taken seriously. On a federal level, there needs to a more specific document made in order to state what exactly counts and discrimination and how this discrimination will be punished. Within the Canadian Human Rights Act, we see that discrimination is stated to be illegal, but there is no specification as to what discrimination is defined as. This could also contraidct with the Charter, since the Charter states one has the right to have a freedom of expression, meaning that in a case of LGBTQ+ discrimination, there are various legal issues that will arise. The idea of further establishing protection for the LGBTQ+ community is one that will take a long time to fully set out in legislation, but it is one that needs to be brought forward as we move towards a better and equal future.
FINAL THOUGHTS Currently, although I am lucky to live in a country that strives for equality for the LGBTQ+ community, I do not feel safe stating who I am. I do not feel like I can proudly state my orientation and my gender without facing massive backlash or possibly being the victim of discrimination and hate crimes, and I am not the only one. There is a clear dislike towards the LGBTQ+ community that is rampant in society, yet there is little in the legislation that makes me feel safe about this hatred. As I grow and become an adult, I realize change has to be done by demanding it, and because of that, I will continue to demand equality and equal treatment for the LGBTQ+ community worldwide.