Ottawa, Ontario – Capital Pride’s 2019 summer festival may be over, but our advocacy efforts continue apace. As a Pride organization based in a G-7 capital and mandated to advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ communities, Capital Pride is highlighting issues of local, national and international concern while working constructively to break down remaining barriers to true inclusion and equality.
Capital Pride’s 2019 summer festival’s theme was In the Spotlight. It reflected our commitment as an organization to showcase individuals and organizations that work year-round to build a more inclusive community, country, and world. It also called us to shine light on remaining barriers on the road toward true equality.
“Two of the four pillars of our mission are advocacy and education” said Davy Sabourin, Capital Pride Chairperson. “Pride is political and we do have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and educate the public about ongoing issues that need to be addressed”, he added.
As such, on August 15, 2019, Capital Pride sent letters to the leaders of the major federal political parties calling on them to publicly commit to the following:
- Ending, once and for all, the discriminatory and irrational blood donation deferral for many queer and trans members of the community. Capital Pride is of the view that this policy, targeting men of have sex with men and trans women, is not based on science; it is grounded in ignorance. Capital Pride stresses that Canada should immediately follow the lead of countries like Chile, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Poland, all of which have completely repealed discriminatory blood bans;
- Ensuring unrestricted and equal access across the country to gender-affirming surgeries for trans people nationwide. Access to such procedures varies widely across the country. Capital Pride believes that it should be universal. Yet in some provinces, no practitioner is available to perform such surgeries safely;
- Banning, by force of law if necessary, gay and trans ‘conversion therapy.’ Capital Pride is of the view that this vile pseudo-science, whose practitioners attempt to suppress or change a person’s sexuality or gender identity, has no place in Canada or anywhere else; and
- Committing to include two-spirit and queer indigenous voices in reconciliation conversations. Capital Pride believes that these perspectives are vitally important in addressing past wrongs and in moving forward together toward full and meaningful reconciliation for all.
Capital Pride also called on the federal Minister of Health, the Hon. Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, to take real action to improve access and eliminate patient costs for transition-related care. Capital Pride deplores that in Canada, far too many trans people are still unable to access gender-affirming surgeries due to travel, cost, and/or delays. Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario, are the only provinces where there are surgeons available to perform most gender-affirming procedures. Almost all trans people who live outside of Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto are required to travel to access care.
In a correspondence addressed to the Hon. Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, Capital Pride reiterated the views it had previously expressed directly to the government for a curriculum that teaches young people about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, online safety, and consent. Following the release of the revised elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum on August 21, 2019, Capital Pride sent a follow-up letter to Minister Lecce dated August 22 commending him for taking on board many of our suggestions, while also expressing lingering concerns. Specifically, Capital Pride expressed concerns regarding the so-called opt out clause for parents, and high school is too late to be teaching the facts about sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression. Capital Pride continues to call on governments to empower all students with the facts on these matters in earlier grades.
Locally, Capital Pride is committed to working with the Chair of Ottawa’s Police Services Board and our recently named Police Chief Peter Sloly to improve relations between the Ottawa Police Service and the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Taking full advantage of our location in a world capital that is home to more than 125 diplomatic missions, Capital Pride also reached out to a number of embassies and high commissions expressing our appreciation and solidarity to countries that have constitutionally enshrined protections for sexual and gender-diverse communities. Capital Pride also communicated with the missions of countries that are recognized by the International Lesbian and Gay Association as state-sponsors of homophobia and transphobia, denouncing their stances and calling for the respect and upholding of full dignity for 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
Capital Pride creates opportunities to celebrate, advocate, educate, and connect people, respecting the full diversity of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Canada’s capital region. It does so through the annual Fierté dans la Capital(e) Pride festival, and year-round. Please watch for exciting new events tied to the pillars of our mission in the weeks and months ahead.
Riyadh Nazerally, Media Coordinator
– 30 –