This article was published on November 8th, 2016
War is a controversial topic at best, and at worst, un-discussable. It is one of the darkest and most tragic facets of human kind, but unfortunately, comes up bringing out the worst in mankind. In order to enjoy the freedoms of today there are incredible people who protect us from attack, and travel great distances to bring resolution during times of war. Peace, equality and freedom are not privileges; they are rights all Canadians are granted and blessed with under the Constitution Act of 1982 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These rights are protected, not only by law, but also by the people who have risked their lives for our freedoms. LGBT Canadians also have many equal rights because of the Canadian Constitution, including marriage, adoption, employer benefits, and more.
Remembrance Day commemorates the end of the First World War when armistice was announced at 11am on November 11, 1918. It exists so we never forget the great sacrifice made on our behalf so we can enjoy, and continue to enjoy the freedoms we have today, free from threat and persecution. Remembrance Day pays respect and remembers those who died in the First World War, and it remembers everyone who has ever given their life for the freedoms of others through service for their country.
Today the Canadian military recognizes same sex marital and common law unions and affords those in them the same rights and benefits to any serving member of the military but this wasn’t always the case. Until 1992, C-90 allowed the military to investigate and dishonourably discharge serving members who were suspected of homosexuality, often following inhumane interrogation and investigation methods. Following the incredible work of Michelle Douglas, a respected Canadian LGBT activist, the act was appealed and today LGBT individuals can proudly serve in the military, free from harassment and discrimination.
The LGBT community understands more than anyone the meaning of threats and attacks on rights and freedoms. The LGBT community worldwide has struggled to be recognized as equal citizens and our ferocity and never ending demand for what is right has brought us so far in our fight for equality. In Canada we are legally, for the most part, equal citizens, but we still have work to do to explicitly protect the rights of all Canadians.
What is important to remember is equality, peace, freedom, and social justice, while they may be rights, are not always given to us. They are taken and protected by individuals and communities who fight on our behalf to preserve these rights. This Remembrance Day, lets us not just remember those who died for our freedoms, let us remember everyone who ever fought for them in any way, these are the people who have, and continue to, shape the world in a way that makes it a better, fairer and happier place in which to live.
On Remembrance Day, a national holiday in Canada, it is incredibly important that members of the LGBT community go to their local cenotaph and attend the Remembrance Day ceremony to take a moment in paying honour and respect for those who fought to give us our rights and freedoms.
Lest we forget.