Canada’s unions have a long history of celebrating diversity and challenging discrimination, harassment and bullying. On April 11, the International Day of Pink, people are encouraged to wear pink in their school, workplace or community as a show of solidarity with survivors of homophobic and transphobic bullying.
“Harassment and violence are serious barriers to equality, particularly for LGBTQ2SI workers, who are disproportionately affected by violence, harassment and bullying. Canada’s unions have proudly negotiated anti-harassment, anti-violence and anti-discrimination policies in workplaces across the country, but there is more work to do,” said CLC Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau.
For those of us who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, non-binary and Two Spirit, harassment and violence can be exacerbated by other forms of discrimination, like racism, sexism or ableism. This is a daily reality for far too many people.
According to Statistics Canada, 13% of police-reported hate crimes in 2016 were motivated by hatred based on sexual orientation.
An Egale Canada report states that bullying can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental health, which can increase the risk of suicide. Studies confirm that suicide rates and suicidal thoughts are significantly higher in LGBTQ youth when compared to their non-LGBTQ peers.
The CLC’s groundbreaking research on the impact of domestic violence at work also revealed that trans workers reported substantially higher rates of experiencing domestic violence.
The International Day of Pink started in Nova Scotia when high school students intervened in support of a fellow student who was bullied for wearing pink. These students purchased pink shirts and encouraged their classmates to arrive at school wearing pink, in solidarity with their bullied peer. Everyone participated, effectively challenging homophobic and transphobic bullying in their school. The Day of Pink has since become a movement, with awareness-raising events taking place in across Canada and around the world.
In addition to helping raise awareness by participating on the Day of Pink, Canada’s unions continue to press for safer workplaces and an end to homophobic, transphobic and gender-based violence and harassment. This includes calling for a clear definition of violence and harassment to be applied to the recently-introduced federal legislation, Bill C-65, so that workers are protected from transphobic and homophobic harassment and violence, including bullying.
We also offer ongoing training and resources to help people address discrimination and create safer workplaces and communities free of gender-based violence, including homophobic and transphobic bullying.
The CLC recently launched #DoneWaiting, a campaign that outlines concrete steps the federal government can take to remove barriers to equality in Canada – which includes eliminating violence and sexual harassment in the workplace.
On the international stage, we are working with the global union movement to call for a new ILO Convention on gender-based violence in the world of work which explicitly includes protections for LGBTQ2SI workers.
“Violence and harassment should never be part of the job. We encourage everyone to challenge discrimination if and when they see it,” said Rousseau.
“On this Day of Pink we call on the federal government to make it safe for workers to report harassment and violence by implementing anti-reprisal measures, including whistleblower protection, to hire and train more federal health and safety officers to recognize and address all forms of harassment and violence, and to recognize domestic violence as a workplace hazard,” Rousseau added.