International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia  5/17/2018 6:00:13 PM 

“We, the elected representatives of NUPGE, its staff and its members from acrosss Canada stand in proud solidarity with all those fighting the oppression of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.”  —  Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (17 May 2018) — May 17 is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), and the global theme this year is “Alliances for Solidarity.”  

On May 17, we raise awareness about all forms of hatred and violence that LGBTTIAPQQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, asexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, two-spirited) people still face. 

At the same time, we join the call for solidarity within these groups, and we work to strengthen alliances, especially when there is an ongoing need to ensure safety, lobby for legal change, and to campaign to change hearts and minds. These alliances highlight the necessity for all marginalized groups and their coalition partners to come together as a strong collective force and as powerful agents of change. 

Canada’s unions doing their part

“We, the elected representatives of NUPGE, its staff and its members from acrosss Canada stand in proud solidarity with all those fighting the oppression of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia," said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

Canada’s labour unions are calling on the federal government to make it easier for workers to report harassment and violence by implementing anti-reprisal measures, including whistleblower protection. This will make it safer for LGBTTIAPQQ2S workers to report harassment and violence in the workplace, without fear of reprisal, discrimination, or stigma.

“It’s time for our government to make sure that any worker who suffers homophobic or transphobic harassment or violence has robust legal protection,” said NUPGE President Larry Brown. “And this includes ensuring the provision of well-publicized whistleblowing or ‘speak out’ procedures that provide alternative methods of reporting concerns relating to violence and harassment.” 

The significance of May 17

May 17 was chosen as IDAHOTB because it marked the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of International Classification of Diseases.  Until then, homosexuality  was listed as a mental illness, and the WHO condoned practices such as aversion therapy, which were erroneously used on the assumption that homosexuality could be cured, like a disease.

Today, IDAHOTB is celebrated in over 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal.  In these countries, homosexuality and transgender identity are criminalized, and LGBTTIAPQQ2S people continue to be violently persecuted because of it. 

In over a decade, IDAHOTB has established itself as the single most important date for LGBTTIAPQQ2S communities to mobilize worldwide.  Millions of people are united in support of the recognition of human rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression.  Still, full-fledged legal recognition is elusive in many jurisdictions, despite the efforts of IDAHOTB and similar movements.  Many LGBTTIAPQQ2S people still lack rights when it comes to marriage, adoption, inheritance, and insurance.     

Canada's unions call on government to act

Canada’s unions have long championed LGBTTIAPQQ2S rights, and advocated safe and healthy workplaces, free from discrimination, violence and harassment. However, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia continue to affect LGBTQ2SI workers on the job and in communities. According to Statistics Canada, 13 per cent of police-reported hate crimes in 2016 were motivated by hatred based on sexual orientation.

LGBTTIAPQQ2S workers face significant barriers when it comes to reporting these crimes and to accessing support services to deal with the impact of violence and harassment.

Later this month, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will begin negotiations for a new labour standard on violence and harassment in the workplace. Trade unions from around the world will be pushing for an inclusive standard to protect all workers and to address the full spectrum of workplace violence and harassment.

The Canadian Labour Congress is calling on Canada’s government to champion a standard that will protect workers who experience harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation, and on gender identity and gender expression.

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