This article was published on December 17th, 2016
The LGBT community has come a long way since the birth of the civil rights movement. It comes down to the many years of dedication from the pioneers of the gay rights movements and gay and equal rights activists put in to secure the rights the gay community has today. With a bravery and ferocity that those new to or outside the community will never fully understand, the gay community has stood together and fought for the right to be yourself, and to live in safety and acceptance.
Relatively speaking, the gay community live lives where they are not confronted by prejudice. Although Canada has come a long way in protecting and providing equal rights and freedoms through The Constitution and The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Act, and is a world-leader in LGBT rights, there is still incredibly valuable work that still needs to be done. Now is not the time to sit back and enjoy. It’s time to persevere and finish what the community founders started on our behalf. Equality is not equality until it is universal and applied to everyone. Here are 5 equal rights Canada still needs to achieve to secure equality for all.
- Equal age of consent: Regardless of sexual orientation, the age of consent for anal sex is unequal. This law obviously and blatantly penalises gay men, although not applied in several provinces, it is in some and exists in the law.
- Declassification of transsexuality as a mental illness: In the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (4), transsexuality is defined as being a ‘disorder’. Simply referring to transsexuals as being disordered is hugely offensive but to have them diagnosed as such is beyond that. It’s damaging and traumatic, especially to those vulnerable and not entirely at ease with their gender identity.
- Sexual orientation conversion therapy outlawed nationally: There have been movements to ban sexual orientation conversion therapy, especially from being provided via the public health care system but these haven’t been implemented at a national level so there are still provinces in which these practises continue to occur.
- Commercial surrogacy for male gay couples: Canada currently only permits altruistic surrogacy – meaning women can only be reimbursed for their time and expenses, they cannot profit (cant be commercial). This greatly hinders the ability of gay male couples to find a surrogate to carry their child and disproportionately affects male gay couples.
- Gay men allowed to donate blood: Currently, men who have sexual contact with other men have to wait for one year before they are allowed to donate blood. Although gay men have a slightly higher risk of carrying HIV then heterosexual counterparts, HIV researchers have said that having a one-year waiting period makes no sense. Donated blood is tested for HIV and AIDs, along with other infectious diseases. The window period for these showing up in blood is maximum 50 days, so a two-month wait period would be justifiable but one year is pointlessly excessive and restrictive.
Although these may seem like small points in comparison to recognition and legal equality, these are the things that keep Canadians from having full and complete equality. Equality isn’t something Canadians are willing to compromise on. It isn’t something Canadians can have a bit of, but not all of. Until all Canadians are treated as unequivocally equal citizens in every facet of their lives, they do not have equality until their equality rights are protected by law.