This article was published on November 28th, 2012
It’s been three decades since Canada brought in the 1982 Constitution Act, proclaiming the Charter of Rights and Freedom, granting equal rights to all Canadians. It was a momentous moment in Canadian history; something that has become celebrated, honoured and highly regarded in our culture.
After decades of protests, marches, and court battles court battles, the gay and lesbian community won the rights for same sex marriage across Canada in 2005. It brought a renewed commitment and new meaning to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the lesbian and gay community. It brought hope and faith to the LGBT community.
Canada has been a recognized leader in equal rights around the globe. Although much work still needs to be done, including securing the right for men who sleep with men to donate blood, and for equal rights for transgendered people, Canada’s laws and equality rights have become a template for other nations.
Unfortunately, it’s not happening quick enough. In fact, 80 countries have laws that impression LGBT people, and seven countries still have the death penalty. It’s a harsh reality. The motivation is primarily based upon religious and cultural beliefs.
But there is hope. Today, 50 countries have anti-discriminatory laws, and 11 countries and two First Nations have legalized same-sex marriage, while another seven recognize same-sex unions. Adding to the count are a number of local jurisdictions which perform or recognize civil unions and/or marriage, including the most recent addition of three States in the recent US election.
While in Canada we celebrate our diversity openly and freely thanks to the Constitution Act of 1982 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is important to recognize that oppression and silence can still be found around the world. It is important that every Canadian show respect for the LGBT community, and to get involved in helping to bring change in Canada and for those that still need our support around the world. Life is happier under the rainbow.