Question Period: Rights of 2SLGBTQ+ People

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Parliament from across the Ottawa River, Ottawa

Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, Minister Marci Ien announced that $1.5 million is being allocated to Canada Pride to be used for safety precautions during Pride parades and festivals this year. This money is being allocated in a reactive manner in response to the very real rise in violence and threats of violence to the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 2SLGBTQ+ people also experience everyday violence year-round here in this country in the form of workplace discrimination, systemic discrimination in the medical system and harassment.

Senator Gold, given the acknowledgement of this increased violence towards this community during Pride Month, what kind of support does the government plan to offer after Pride Month is over, and what other strategies are the government planning to put in place to protect 2SLGBTQ+ people year-round?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, senator, and for underlining this important issue and the vulnerability of the LGBTQ community to forms of discrimination that regrettably, and often tragically, continue apace.

This government is proud of the measures that it has taken to strengthen our laws against discrimination. We, in this chamber, had occasion just a few short years ago to debate amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act to broaden the protection for members of that community. The funding that you announced and other measures are designed to increase and enhance support provisions to bring back the court challenges program as another mechanism whereby the infringement of legal rights, which is too often the case, can be challenged by those who would not otherwise have the means to do so.

The work will never be finished, and more will always need to be done until all Canadians can live with the full respect and dignity we are all entitled to regardless of our sexual orientation, our gender orientation and how we choose to live. This government is proud of its commitment to support those in that community. Actions speak louder than words, and actions will continue to be taken to support the community.

Senator Bernard: Thank you. As was mentioned, real change comes in many different forms. Workplace discrimination is certainly one of the areas of discrimination that queer people experience every day. When will the government include queer and transgender people in Canada’s Employment Equity Act, which is one specific action that could be taken?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. I’m not in a position to answer that specifically, but I will certainly bring that to the attention of the minister. However, I will underline nonetheless that not only our Constitution but also our Human Rights Act and general jurisprudence that have evolved under the equality of rights provisions both in federal and provincial legislations are increasingly understood to prohibit such forms of discrimination. Thank you for the question. I will bring it to the attention of the minister.

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