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Call to Action – Support Toby’s Act Now!

May 3rd, 2012 No comments

Help add “gender identity” and “gender expression” into the Ontario Human Rights Code!
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On Tuesday, February 21, 2012, NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo tabled Toby’s Act for the fourth time — a private member’s bill that seeks to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” as protected statuses in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Co-sponsored by Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi and Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliot, Toby’s Act, if passed, would offer far greater protections for people in Ontario who are not cissexual, cisgendered, or normatively sexed or gendered.
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When we last left off with Toby’s Act, then Attorney General Chris Bentley shot down the Bill, claiming that protections were already offered under current Human Rights Code and that no further amendments to the Code were necessary. Queer Ontario understands that this isn’t the case, given that many transsexual, transgender, and otherly-gendered persons are still the targets of service, employment, and housing discrimination.
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What Can You Do To Help?
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We are calling on queer and trans communities across Ontario to support Toby’s Act and to let Premier McGuinty, Andrea Horwath (Leader, ONDP), Tim Hudak (Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario) and their parties know that we support the inclusion of “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the Human Rights Code. Here’s a few simple ways you can do that:
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1.  Sign our Petition

Let Premier McGuinty, Andrea Horwath (Leader, ONDP), Tim Hudak (Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario) and their parties know that you support the inclusion of “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the Ontario Human Rights Code. For every person that signs the petition, an e-mail will be sent to all the parties listed above letting them know that you support Toby’s Act. So sign now!
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2. 
Call your MPP and let them know you support Toby’s Act

A list of current MPPs with their contact information can be found here. If you are unsure of who your MPP is, then you can use this handy tool to find your Riding, which can then be found on the contacts link.
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3.  Join us at the Ontario Legislative Building on Thursday, May 10th.

The bill is set to be discussed at around 2:00 pm. The more people we can get into the galleries to show support, the better!
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Together we can make this fourth attempt a success, and to finally have gender identity and gender expression recognized in the Ontario Human Rights Code. We extend our thanks to the Trans Lobby Group, and to MPP Cheri DiNovo, for their vigilence and persistence.

 

Categories: Releases Tags:

Queer Ontario Response to Prostitution Ruling

March 26th, 2012 No comments

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Queer Ontario Partially Applauds the Ontario Appeals Court Ruling on Canada’s Prostitution Laws
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Toronto, ON — March 26, 2012 – Queer Ontario partially applauds the Ontario Appeals Court Ruling on Canada’s prostitution laws for its decision to recognize sex work as a legitimate line of work. We are relieved to see that a more experiential consideration of sex workers and their rights has taken hold in the judicial system, as opposed to the sex-negative moralism that had previously governed their living and working conditions.

The Court’s decision to strike down the prostitution-specific clause in the ‘bawdyhouse’ provision, and to criminalize ‘living on the avails of prostitution’ only when it involves worker exploitation, grants sex workers the ability to establish safer workplaces and to live off of their earnings without criminal persecution. It makes it easer for sex workers to report instances of exploitation and gives them the ability to establish multi-person brothels, or to hire bodyguards and chauffeurs.

However, we reject the Court’s decision to uphold the ‘communication for the purposes of prostitution’ provision since it continues to criminalize sex workers who work outdoors. It is a decision founded on phobic attitudes that deem sex workers and any evidence of their work to be a ‘public nuisance’ — a decision that places the rights of hypothetical communities above the individual and inalienable rights of sex workers, thus failing to provide basic legal protections to those who need them the most.

Indeed, it is unreasonable for the Ontario Court of Appeals to presume that all sex workers will start working indoors now that the ‘bawdyhouse’ and ‘living off the avails’ provisions have been amended. Working outdoors still provides greater visibility to sex workers, which can contribute to a greater availability of clients and, with that, a more sustainable income. Unfortunately, working outdoors also presents a greater security risk for sex workers — risks that can be allayed by pre-screening their clients — and the decision to criminalize their communication in public fails to equip them with the legal support they need to do their work safely.

Moreover, the Appeals Court failed to realize that establishing and operating a brothel requires a certain level of income, a certain level of connectedness, and a certain level of entrepreneurial know-how to do so successfully, which many sex workers do not have because of economic, educational, and language barriers, among others.

We expect that the imminent Supreme Court decision will give greater consideration to the implications behind the public solicitation law, as well as the social, financial, and knowledge requirements needed to establish and operate a brothel. A protection of sex worker rights invariably includes the protection of those who work outdoors, in public. To criminalize them is to be complicit in the continued stigmatization of sex workers as a class of people.

Queer Ontario’s position statement on sex worker rights can be found here:
http://queerontario.org/2011/12/17/queer-ontario-policy-statement-on-sex-work

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For inquiries, please contact

Nick Mulé
Chairperson, Queer Ontario
info@queerontario.org

Queer Ontario is a provincial network of gender and sexually diverse individuals — and their allies — who are committed to questioning, challenging, and reforming the laws, institutional practices, and social norms that regulate queer people. Operating under liberationist and sex-positive principles, we fight for greater accessibility, recognition, and pluralism in society.

For a PDF version of this statement, click here:
QOResponse-AppealsCourt-ProstitutionRuling

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Categories: Releases Tags:

Queer Ontario Questions the Scope of Wednesday’s Anti-Bullying Bills

December 2nd, 2011 No comments

For Immediate Release

Queer Ontario Questions the Scope of Wednesday’s Anti-Bullying Bills
Calls for explicit protections and a more holistic approach to student bullying

TORONTO – Queer Ontario believes Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten is moving in the right direction with the introduction of Bill 13 (the Accepting Schools Act), which will support students who want to establish activities or organizations that address the needs and experiences of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities — like LGBTQ support groups [Accepting Schools Act Amendment 9]. While we appreciate the explicit mention of homophobia as a mentality that needs to be addressed in schools to prevent the bullying of students who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual; we are disappointed to find that heterosexism, cisgenderism, and transphobia are not mentioned whatsoever, and that gender identity and gender expression are inconsistently addressed throughout.

Similarly, when it comes to Bill 14 (the Anti-Bullying Bill) introduced by Progressive Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer on the same day, how can we be assured that the Anti-Bullying Act will duly address the bullying of LGBTQ students — or any marginalized student, for that matter — if it does not make any explicit mention of them? That is: how can we be assured that this legislation will be applied equally to all students without sidelining anyone for fear of the Government being accused of pandering to so-called “interest groups”?

It is also curious that it is taking a series of youth suicides due to bullying that the provincial government is only now addressing the issue of GSAs in Ontario high schools, despite existing PPM 145 that already permits them in all high schools throughout the province, which the Liberals refused to implement. In essence, Bill 13 curtails PPM 145 by permitting Catholic schools to name LGBTQ support groups with other names with less currency.

To address these issues, and to ensure the full and proper protection of marginalized LGBTQ students, we are calling on the Government of Ontario to do the following:

1. To develop a clear, comprehensive, and unequivocal definition of bullying, be it by the two parties who have introduced these Bills, or by Parliament as a whole.

2. To amend these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, to include explicit protections for transsexual, transgender, two-spirited, intersexed, and questioning students on the basis of transphobia and cisgenderism – a provision currently lacking from them.

3. To include compliance mechanisms in these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, to explicitly outline repercussions for School Administration, Boards, etc. that do not comply with the legislation. The compliance mechanisms must outline what the Ministry will do if School Administration, Boards, etc. fail to comply with the legislation and what specific actions the Ministry will take to ensure compliance.

4. To include a mechanism in these bills for youth to bypass School Administration, Boards, etc. if they are facing challenges with the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances or with school compliance with these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, such as teacher or staff bullying of students. This could take the form of an Ombudsman for Youth, Compliance Officer or a similar sort of position at the Ministry of Education that youth in Ontario schools can contact if they feel they are not properly being supported by their Administration or School Boards.

5. To include protections for teachers from bullying in the school environment as well as protections for teachers engaging in anti-bullying and/or equity and social justice work from harassment, oppression, marginalization or repercussions for performing such work.

6. To re-implement the new Physical and Health Curriculum, that included formal and explicit education about the problems behind the demeaning mentalities that fuelled bullying — like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, cisgenderism, cissexism, fatphobia, and ableism.

7. To update the Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum to include an accurate and comprehensive portrayal of LGBTQ persons and their particular needs and experiences; as well as the history of the LGBTQ rights movement and the achievements of historic LGBTQ figures and their contributions to society. Representing the livelihoods and achievements of LGBTQ persons communicates the idea that LGBTQ persons are a very important part of society, and that we shouldn’t be unjustly oppressed or marginalized.

8. To include human rights protections of transsexual, transgender, two-sirited, intersexed, and genderqueer individuals via the inclusion of “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds for discrimination and violence in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada.

We have requested a meeting with Minister Broten, MPP Witmer and Peter Tabuns (MPP; Education Critic, NDP) to discuss how to move forward on these bills or what hopefully will evolve into an amended bill taking into account input from stakeholders. At press time we have not heard back from any of the ministers. It’s time Queen’s Park got serious about homophobic, heterosexist, transphobic and cisgenderist bullying in all Ontario schools. We hope sincerely that the parties can work together to formulate a bill that addresses the comprehensive needs of LGBTQ youth in Ontario schools.

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