• In the past homosexuality was a crime- it was a part of the Criminal Code of Canada • Punishments: fines, persecution & torture, death
• The first attempt to put homosexuality in a positive light was carried out by Jim Egan- submitted articles and letters to tabloids like Toronto’s True News Times in the 1960s. • The Maison de Lys- first club where gay men and lesbians could go for same-sex dancing, opened in 1961 • Such efforts were the beginnings of an attempt to build Toronto’s own gay culture • Gay activism was met by resistance from the government through police raids • In 1969, then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau decriminalized consenting sexual acts between people of the same sex
• Issuing his famous dictum that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.” • Stonewall Riots in New York City happened that same year in reaction to police harassment of the gay community • organizations advocating gay liberation: Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE) of Toronto • Gay activism was met by resistance from the government through police raids- simultaneous raid on four bathhouses on February 5, 1981 (after legalized) • Resulted in the first mass demonstration by the gay community on the evening of February 6 • Municipal government commissioned a report that recognized Toronto’s gays and lesbians as a community subsequent to the communities’ reaction • Since 1973 sexual orientation included in anti-discrimination policies • Granted benefits to same-sex spouses in 1989 by Toronto Public Library Board • Toronto Board of Education released a gay-positive curriculum guide in 1992
The Struggle for Equal Rights
• Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO), established in 1975, fought to include sexuality under the protective clauses of the Ontario Human Rights Code. • In 1995, a key legal ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada found that while sexual orientation wasn’t specifically mentioned in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they could be “read in.” The next year, the federal government amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation. Paré, Michael F. “History of Gay Toronto and Birth of Queer West” Queer West. N.p 2012. 22 Mar. 2012.
CBC News-http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/samesexrights/timeline_canada.html • Delwin Vriend, a lab instructor at King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta, fired from job because he is gay. The Alberta Human Rights Commission refuses to investigate the case because Alberta Individual Rights Protection Act does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. • Vriend takes the government of Alberta to court and, in 1994, the court rules that sexual orientation must be added to the act • The government wins on appeal in 1996 and the decision is overturned. • high court unanimously rules that the exclusion of homosexuals from Alberta’s Individual Rights Protection Act is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court says that the act would be interpreted to include homosexuals even if the province doesn’t change it- November 1997 • May 1999- The Supreme Court of Canada rules same-sex couples should have the same benefits and obligations as opposite-sex common-law couples and equal access to benefits from social programs to which they contribute. •