REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
The Toronto mayor, in his quest for notoriety, again has vocalized his stance against the LGBT community. This man, who has brought great shame to the office of mayor, is a disgrace not only to Toronto, but to all of Canada. It is no secret he has a great disrespect for the gay community and makes no bones about it.
In recent years while in the mayor’s seat, Ford has refused to take part or otherwise support Toronto’s Pride celebrations. His excuse has always been family gatherings, however, recently he made it clear he does not support this celebration of Pride and Toronto has the largest such event in Canada. He also says he will not take part in the World Pride celebrations to be held in his city the end of June.
Recently, Ford has been compared to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and I concur wholeheartedly. Both men blatantly attack the gay community and that clearly is a direct hit on human rights, refusing and indeed dismissing the diversity of the people they represent. Of course, Putin goes even further as has been proven by the countless arrests of gays during the past while, including the arrest of four activists on the opening day of the Sochi Olympics.
On Feb. 7, a number of cities across Canada raised the Pride Flag to honour our gay athletes and show support for our Russian LGBT brothers and sisters. Rob Ford immediately ordered the flag to be taken away, but was not successful. Sadly, he did have the backing of a few city councillors. Ford and Putin have a longstanding hatred that keeps churning on a daily basis.
How do we tackle this continuing problem of homophobia, intolerance and discrimination? We must remain vigilant and continue to be vocal. Silence will not bring change and indeed exacerbates the situation. As for Putin, he vaguely mentioned that foreign gay athletes would not be harmed. However, with the games over, Russia’s gay community will again feel the wrath of Vladimir Putin.
Back in Canada, we still must listen to the discriminating voice of Toronto’s homophobic mayor. He certainly does not represent the majority of Canadians. Unfortunately, discrimination against LGBTs continues in many forms around the world. Most religious organizations, including the Vatican, continue their quest to not grant equal status on the basis of sexual orientation and, consequently, reject equal rights, equal opportunity, equal marriage and equal treatment.
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.