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REFOCUS: Discrimination under the umbrella of the law

Gerard Veldhoven
Gerard Veldhoven - FILE

Much has been written and discussed, and battles have been fought in the courts regarding the discrimination that continues in this country.

Ironically, Canada remains one of the most accepting countries in the world. To say that conservative minds are at work is not out of line. Those who believe certain members of our society are eligible to live their lives as they are meant to be lived, and be accepted as “normal,” serve as a constant reminder of how much work remains to be done in this society. Do we, LGBTQ+ citizens of this world deserve to be treated like second-class beings, and is it acceptable to let this community of world citizens be treated in this way?

Many of us remember former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attempt to reverse the marriage act and exclude gay couples from being able to legally marry. And most of his MPs agreed with him. Last year, the Conservative Party decided to not question the issue any longer. Of course, that’s not written in stone as Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has also voted against same-sex marriage. So, as we study the issue of discrimination which has a multitude of headings, we learn, through experience, many changes may occur.

Even as Canada’s Conservative Party has indicated it will not reopen the issues regarding LGBTQ+ citizens’ rights, a change of heart, as well as changes in policies, may be in the future. Discrimination under the law is also evident in Ontario as the Progressive Conservative government in that province has ordered the re-instatement of sexual education as set forth in 1995 and erasing the content concerning the LGBTQ+ community. This is pure discrimination under the umbrella of the laws of this land. Yet, governments in our provinces, as well as the federal governments, may introduce legislation that allows actions that do not follow the laws of this country.

Alberta is on the verge of a provincial election. There could be a change in government to the United Conservative Party under leader Jason Kenney, a staunch anti-LGBTQ+ former federal MP, and a return to eliminating any laws concerning LGBTQ+ citizens in that province. He is against gay/straight alliance groups in educational facilities and same-sex marriage, and other gains that have made in Canada, one of the leaders in the world, as far as equal rights are concerned. The concerns are real and the fact the laws do not always protect makes it clear the fight for equality continues.

Religious ideologies are a strong factor that influences the politicians, and of course the general public, in a manner that gives us cause for concern as only those who are “straight” are welcome. This should also be counted as discrimination. It must be made clear that not all religious denominations are guilty of this discriminatory action. Our world, our existence, and our rights as human beings, are challenged by those who feel the need to exclude rather than embrace. The meaning of this is abundantly clear. The LGBTQ+ citizens of this country are not necessarily protected under the laws of the land because discrimination occurs daily, with terrible consequences that do not need to exist. Let us be clear, discrimination is the culprit of all minorities, even as we are told by governments and others, that protection exists under the laws. Who is responsible to make certain that protection exists and is promoted in reality, not just philosophical words that are meaningless? Words as spoken by Pope Francis and others mean little unless put into action. Positive deeds will tell the story, and history will tell our children if discrimination has indeed been eliminated. Human rights dictate that all be treated equally under the laws, and indeed through kindness and love. Much has been accomplished, but so much more remains to be done.

Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime gay rights activist and a resident of Pictou County. Comments and information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com

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