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Pride and human rights

    Wednesday, July 6, 2016 - 10:45
    Photo Credit: 
    Amnesty International

    By George Harvey, LGBTI Coordinator

    Thanks to Amnesty supporters in Regina for showing their Pride!It is summer time in Canada and many Pride events are underway in cities across the country. The type of Pride event may vary greatly from a large city like Toronto, with well over 1.25 million participants, to an intimate gathering in some of Canada’s smallest villages. LGBTI groups, individuals and allies gather to reflect on the year that has been, promote equality and tolerance, and advocate for the rights of LGBTI people worldwide. Pride has been a means to combat laws, policies, and social attitudes that harm LGBTI people. It is by protesting and denouncing these practices that a sense of community emerges and, one would hope, a sense of pride in the person that you are takes root.

    Pride is also a learning experience for the community itself. I find myself learning new things at Pride every year and having assumptions and perspectives challenged by new ways of looking at issues. We come together because we share a gender identity or sexual orientation that differs from the societal norm. However, while this is deeply rooted in our identity and personal self, it is not the only definition of who we are. We are queer but we are also people of colour, people of varying socio-economic status, we are Indigenous Canadians, recent immigrants, disabled, we are homeless youth, sex workers, and people living with HIV. We are refugees.Amnesty Fieldworker Gail Clark at Pride in New Glasgow, NS.

    This year we decided to focus on refugees in Canada as our Pride theme. Refugees have been debated and discussed with increasing intensity as today’s world forces the issue to the forefront of the global social conscious. LGBTI refugees are among the most vulnerable and it is an issue that we felt needed to be discussed during Pride. We have to be willing to discuss these issues as a community and follow through with real advocacy. If our pride does not extend to refugees than we isolate the most vulnerable among us.

    This becomes the big question. Who does Pride apply to? Are we limiting it to those who live in relative comfort compared to the vulnerable? How do we define ourselves as a community? There are many organizations and individuals who are having this discussion across Canada and I think it is great that these discussions are happening, even if they may be uncomfortable for some. If we cannot extend pride to our most vulnerable communities than the movement is lost. Refugees new to Canada should feel the same sense of pride as the rest of us.Amnesty shows their Pride in Winnipeg!

    Thanks to all the Amnesty supporters who have taken part in Pride activities already this summer. There are many Pride events still to come across Canada. Get involved!

    Be yourself. Be proud.


    George Harvey is the LGBTI Coordinator with Amnesty International Canada. Follow him on Twitter @georgeharveyto