Time for Pride celebration, and resistance to attacks on human rights, say Canada’s unions

June 5, 2019

As Pride events are held in communities across the country, Canada’s unions are celebrating the achievements of LGBTQ2SI activism from coast to coast, while committing to challenging the rise of racism and hate politics threatening human rights around the world.

“Pride season is an important moment to come together and celebrate the victories and visibility of LGBTQ2SI activism in our communities”, said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “It is also a critical moment to reflect on how tenuous those victories are with the surge of hate messages and attacks on human rights seen globally. Canada’s unions are ready to defend against clawbacks to the gains we’ve made for the rights and freedoms of sexual and gender minorities.”

Canada’s labour movement has an important role to play both domestically and internationally when it comes to protecting the rights of LGBTQ2SI communities. In June, the International Labour Conference concludes negotiations toward a new international labour standard on violence and harassment in the world of work, a clear direction to governments and employers to prevent, remedy and address violence and harassment in the world of work.

“We are working hard to negotiate a comprehensive and inclusive standard that recognizes that some groups of workers, including LGBTQ2SI workers, are disproportionately exposed to and impacted by violence and harassment,” said Marie Clarke Walker, CLC Secretary-Treasurer. “The ILO needs to send a clear message that violence and harassment should never be part of the job,” added Walker.

In Canada, unions have played a crucial role in challenging homophobia and transphobia, and building workplaces and communities that are inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ2SI people and families. The Public Service Alliance of Canada recently launched their ‘Building Trans-Inclusive Workplaces’ online tool kit, which includes materials to support trans workers and their allies in the workplace. The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation has been mobilizing to defend the modernization of the provincial education system with meaningful inclusion of anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia resources and lesson plans. In Ontario, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation are joined by students and activists across all major social justice movements to fight back against a 10 year set-back to the provincial sexual health and gender education curriculum.

“Make no mistake, it is clear that there is a coordinated and ideological attack on the rights of LGBTQ2SI communities in Canada and globally,” said Rousseau. ”This Pride season, I’m proud to be a part of a labour movement that is ready to resist and defend the rights of all of our workers and their families.”

Canada’s unions are leading the push for a national pharmacare plan. LGBTQ2SI people face worse health outcomes because of the compounding impacts of homophobia and transphobia in our health care system and in our society. Access to health care, including medication, is a fundamental human right. For members of the LGBTQ2SI community, that means a universal, single-payer pharmacare plan we can be proud of.

Unions across Canada will be participating and visible in Pride events in their regions. For a full list of Pride event and to find one near you, please click here.

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