Below is the NDP’s statement we released on Tuesday to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The NDP remains committed to working to promote the rights and freedoms of all LGBTT Canadians; we plan to continue Bill Siksay’s work and put forward his bill to establish full human rights protection for transgender persons in the upcoming session of Parliament.
INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA
On this International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, New Democrats stand in solidarity with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual (LGBTT) communities in the movement to transform our society to one free of homophobic and transphobic prejudice and violence.
International Day Against Homophobia was created in 2003 in Quebec to commemorate removal of ‘homosexuality’ as a mental disorder by the World Health Organization in 1990. Transphobia was included in 2009 “to give a specific dimension, and fight against the invisibility of the trans issue.”
Gender Identity Disorder remains internationally recognized as a disorder by medical and psychiatric officials. Yet there is a growing body of literature suggesting that treating trans identity as a disease can in fact be a barrier to accessing legal status, transition-related and other health care, social integration, and full and healthy lives for transsexual and transgender persons.
Trans Day of Remembrance, first organized in San Francisco on November 20, 1999, mourns transsexual and transgender people who have been brutally murdered each year, and is now commemorated in events around the world including several in cities across Canada.
Former NDP MP Bill Siksay’s Private Member’s Bill C-389, which would have established full and explicit human rights protection for transsexual and transgender Canadians, passed third reading with all party support on February 10, 2011. C-389 added gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act, and to the hate crime and sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code. Unfortunately, the C-389 died in the Senate when the Federal Election was called. New Democrats will keep working to enshrine these protections in law.
Bisexual people are often forgotten, invisible in public policy, and not included in International Day Against ‘Homophobia and Transphobia’. Yet bisexual communities hold Celebrate Bisexuality Day every September 23 internationally. Bisexual people remain the LGBT community’s best-kept secret.
Despite achieving legal protection and marriage equality, lesbian and gay people continue to face prejudice, discrimination, victimization, and social problems in Canada. There is a lack of government action in health care and education to target the negative outcomes that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people experience in those areas. News about continued heterosexism and transphobia in the immigration and refugee systems is also deeply troubling.
Internationally, New Democrats are calling on Canada to pressure Uganda to immediately and permanently abandon the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” introduced in its Parliament in October 2009. This bill is a violation of human rights and international agreements and threatens the civil rights guaranteed in the Ugandan constitution.
The NDP believes that the Canadian government still has a responsibility to express Canada’s very serious concerns about the violence against LGBTT persons in Uganda and the ongoing failure to protect them and their human rights. We urge the Canadian Government to use all necessary diplomatic resources to contact the Ugandan President and pressure him to veto the “Kill the gays” bill immediately.
The Federal NDP will continue to pursue legislative mechanisms and other means to counter homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canada and throughout the world. We encourage all Canadians to learn more about homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, and stand united to end prejudice against LGBTT people today.