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Show your Pride with Amnesty this Summer

Posted in: LGBTI Rights, Canada
    Friday, June 26, 2015 - 15:11

    By George Harvey, Amnesty International Canada, LGBTI Coordinator

    A landmark ruling from the Supreme Court in the United States calling for marriage equality in all 50 states! A successful referendum on marriage equality in Ireland! Discriminatory laws challenged and repealed in a number of countries, and peaceful Pride marches in cities where they've been met with violence and counter marches in the past. We have much to celebrate during Pride this summer.

    Pride season is in full swing. As I type this blog I am gearing up to coordinate Amnesty's contingent in Toronto Pride this Sunday. Amnesty marches in Pride parades throughout Canada and around the world. We promote our actions at festivals and info-fairs, and we honour the lives lost to homophobia and transphobia at human rights vigils. Some of us are Amnesty activists who are members of the LGBTI community; many are allies marching in solidarity with the LGBTI community. All of us stand firmly against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and all of us stand firmly for the right to loudly, proudly, and publicly be who we are.

    Pride is a celebration, but it is also a time to remember that discrimination still exists in Canada and around the world, and it is a time to re-commit ourselves to ending homophobia and transphobia in law and practice. In the past year we have seen draconian and discriminatory laws passed criminalizing homosexuality in a number of countries. We have seen a heartbreaking number of transgender people murdered, go missing, or be pushed to suicide. We continue to see LGBTI people imprisoned and murdered in a number of countries because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And we still have a ways to go here in Canada. Bill C-279, which aimed to protect Canada's transgender communities from violence and discrimination, was needlessly held up in the Senate and died when Parliament adjourned for the summer (and the upcoming federal election) this week. 

    Pride is a time to be good to each other and stand in solidarity. This includes recognizing the beautiful differences we have and celebrating what makes our community diverse. It also includes being a good ally, and ensuring we are doing our utmost to promote equality and dignity, and confront homophobia and transphobia. It means being a good friend, and learning the ways we can best support each other. Internationally, it means letting activists in countries like Uganda know that they are not alone--in Uganda, we endanger activists if we directly target the government with our actions--but we can still have an impact by showing activists that we stand with them. 

    From the perspective of a gay man, I think we should be aware of violence against woman and recognize how gender factors into violence. Transgender women are some of the most vulnerable in our community. Gender expression is at the root of much of the violence targeting gay men. Effeminate gay men are more likely to be the targets of violence and abuse. This discrimination extends into the larger LGBTI community where effeminate gay men and transgender people may face discrimination from their peers. We need to recognize our role in perpetuating discriminatory attitudes and be cognizant of our words and actions. We need to be better allies.

    So what can you do? Get informed, show up, and take action! 

    Stay up to date on all the latest news and actions by visiting our LGBTI webpage, or following us on Facebook and Twitter. Check out all our amazing Pride resources! And don't hesitate to get in touch with me or my co-coordinator Alex Kennedy if you have any comments or questions:

    So this Pride season, let's try to be better allies. Let's show solidarity in each other and in the movement. Be safe. Be yourself. Be proud. Happy Pride!