Lois Moorcroft marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Yukon NDP Justice Critic Lois Moorcroft marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia by making the following statement in the Yukon Legislative Assembly:

Madam Speaker, May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Its aim is to coordinate international events that raise awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning LGBTQ human rights violations worldwide.

The day was originally known as the International Day Against Homophobia. May 17 was selected because on this date in 1990, homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organization’s international classification of diseases. Homosexuality is no longer considered a disease internationally.

Homophobia is hatred of, fear of, or prejudice against homosexuals or homosexuality. People who hold this prejudice and hatred have killed homosexuals, and such violence continues to the present day. In 1965, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a ruling that labelled a Northwest Territories’ man, Everett Klippert, who admitted he was gay and had sex with other men, as a dangerous sexual offender and sentenced him to an indefinite prison sentence. In 1969, homosexuality was removed from the Criminal Code of Canada; however, Everett Klippert wasn’t released from prison until 1971. Homosexuality is slowly being decriminalized in other nations, but it remains a crime and a death sentence in many nations.

In 2009, transphobia — violence and discrimination against transgender people — was added to the name of the campaign. Biphobia is aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people as a social group or as individuals. Biphobia is a source of discrimination against bisexual people and it too is commonly based on negative bisexual stereotypes or irrational fear.

Today in Ottawa, the federal Justice minister announced legislation that would guarantee full legal and human rights protection to transgender people across the country. To coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has introduced Bill C-16 which would ensure that Canadians will be free to identify themselves and to express their gender as they wish, while being protected against discrimination and hate.

Madam Speaker, the Yukon Human Rights Act remains silent on protected grounds of gender identity and gender expression. Adding gender identity and gender expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination is a priority area for the amendment of Yukon’s Human Rights Act. I acknowledge Yukoners who have led the campaign toward Yukon government policy changes to have a more inclusive society that now allows trans people to get a driver’s licence with their gender identity. I trust that our tributes today signal all members’ support for legislative reform in Yukon, such as Canada has announced today in the federal arena.