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QO Pre-Election LGBTQ Issues

June 22nd, 2017 Comments off

Queer Ontario – One Year to Provincial Election 2018

News Release                                                                                               June 22, 2017

Queer Ontario

Provincial Government Remaining Year to Election LGBTQ Issues

‘Clock Runs on Liberals Known for Running the Clock’

 

Toronto:  The next Ontario provincial election is slated for June 2018 and the provincial Liberal government led by out lesbian Premiere Kathleen Wynne can do much to address the following issues affecting the LGBTQ communities during the time remaining in their current term of office.  Queer Ontario highlights seven (7) issues (in no particular order) that the provincial Liberal government known for ‘running the clock’ can work on as their clock runs down.

  1. Defunding of the Catholic School Board System:

While the provincial government is planning to close 121 schools and is faced with up to $15 billion in repair backlogs, it has yet to justify why we still have a separate Catholic School Board in this secular province.  It is estimated that the cost of publicly funding this particular religious school system is between $1.5 – $2 billion a year.  Besides these savings it would eliminate a school system that to this day flagrantly ignores legislation protecting LGBTQ students.

 

  1. Updating Policies on Blood Donations for Gay Men:

 

Federal policy issued by Health Canada is complex, confusing and ultimately out of touch with current science regarding men who engage in sex with other men donating blood.  The provincial Liberals are urged to pressure their federal cousins to update this policy.

 

  1. Decriminalization of HIV Non Disclosures:

 

The Ontario Attorney General needs to cease the unjust prosecution of people living with HIV by ending the criminalization of HIV-positive people for nondisclosures.  This over extension of criminal law needs to be replaced with prosecutorial guidelines.

 

  1. Special Investigations Unit (SIU):

 

We call on the provincial Attorney General to implement all 129 recommendations of the Independent Police Oversight Review led by Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch.  We also urge that the names of officers under investigation be released and that demographic data collected by oversight agencies also include sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression.

 

  1. Gender Pay Gap:

 

The gender pay gap in Ontario between women and men has stagnated at 30% over the past three (3) decades.  Lesbian and bisexual women can be particularly impacted by this pay gap and trans women even further challenged by the gender binary in work settings.  Greater enforcement of pay equity laws is required along with a broader more inclusive understanding of gender variance.

 

  1. Reinstating Employment Equity Legislation:

 

The short-lived Ontario Employment Equity Act under the provincial NDP government, repealed in 1995 by the provincial Conservative government is long overdue for reinstatement.  Employment equity legislation is a tool to redress systemic barriers in employment settings to assist marginalized groups such as women, Indigenous, visible minorities and the (dis)Abled (as recognized through federal legislation) in attaining, sustaining and flourishing in a level playing employment field.  Employment equity legislation can and should be extended to gender and sexually diverse groups.

 

  1. Ontario Basic Income Pilot:

 

A basic income for Ontarians is supported in principle.  Nevertheless, care must be taken to ensure sustainability of universal programs and a social service support system to assist those who may fall through the cracks.

 

– 30 –

 

Interviews:

 

Nick Mulé

Queer Ontario Spokesperson

nickjmule@gmail.com

416.979.2783

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Participation of Toronto Police Service in Pride Toronto Parade

February 20th, 2017 Comments off

                                          `Inclusion Earned (?)

Participation of Toronto Police Service in Pride Toronto Parade

Much has been said since Pride Toronto decided to support Black Lives Matter – Toronto’s (BLM-TO) demand to not have the Toronto Police Service (TPS) participate in the Pride Parade. Framing this as an act of ‘exclusion’ in a festival that celebrates ‘inclusion’ on the part of the TPS, mainstream society and some members of the LGBTQ communities is to distort the meaning of ‘inclusion’ in this circumstance.

Pride Toronto’s mission and vision includes celebrating, uniting and empowering gender and sexually diverse communities through values of inclusivity, diversity and creativity. Showing up one day a year in uniform to be on a float or march in the Pride Parade does not atone for how the police treat members of our communities the remainder of the year.

Police services in this province including the TPS are:

  • Carding people of colour, particularly young Black males, at greater rates than other races
  • Engaging in violent altercations with people of colour, especially Black males
  • Killing people of colour including Black males
  • Participating in the incarceration of Indigenous and Black people at disproportionate rates as compared to the White population
  • Contributing to the criminalization of people with HIV, particularly racialized males
  • Stigmatizing HIV-positive people with misinformation
  • Disrespecting and harassing trans people
  • Arresting men who engage in public sex with other men in parks and washrooms
  • Surveilling poor communities under the guise of community policing (TAVIS)
  • Harassing and intimidating sex workers, drug users and the homeless

Members of all of the above communities are also members of the LGBTQ communities. When the police, an institution of the state, can show respect and devise a way to work meaningfully with all these communities then they will have earned a place of inclusion in the Pride Parade.  No ‘regret’ from a police chief for the bathhouse raids of over 35 years ago nor unveiling of a mural without community consultation, will smooth over the harsh realities of many in our communities both then and now.

Queer Ontario would like to see the day the TPS or any police service in the province can participate in the Pride Parade respecting the values of Pride Toronto and more importantly respecting all members of the LGBTQ communities all year round. Unfortunately, they are far from having earned this inclusion.

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 accessibility, recognition, and pluralism, using social media and other tactics to engage in political action, public education, and coalition building.

Queer Ontario – Pride Toronto-TPS-Inclusion Earned Statement

 

 

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QO Statement on BLMTO and Pride

February 1st, 2017 Comments off

Queer Ontario’s Position Statement on

Black Lives Matter Toronto and Pride Toronto

January 30, 201

It has been suggested that the only way for long established white dominated institutions in our society to reach the goal to become truly welcoming of racial equity is for them to be shut down and rebuilt with that goal established as its foundation. At Queer Ontario, we wonder if the recent vote at Pride Toronto approving the Black Lives Matter demands and electing five new members of the Pride Toronto executive might give Pride Toronto the opportunity to test that premise.

Queer Ontario welcomes the Pride decision as a way of moving toward more active participatory inclusion of a wider diversity of LGBTQ folks and their concerns than has been seen up to now. Recent events have provided a challenge to white LGBTQ folks especially and the ability to re-imagine a deeper form of democratic inclusion and participation. Coming to this realization depends on understanding how the very important gains in community-building and resistance in our queer politics has also been a history of the leverage that whiteness (and middle-class) status affords those who engage in social justice politics as well.

Has Pride in Toronto become a corporatized tourist event with a party agenda and little to no tolerance of politics? Pride, which symbolizes the dawning of the modern-day gay liberation movement, was born out of resistance as demonstrated by the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City and the 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto. We have made enormous progress on queer issues in Toronto, Ontario and Canada but that progress has not been evenly meted out. Some members of our communities do not reap the benefits, namely those that are racialized, ethnicized, Indigenous, gendered, the disabled and the impoverished. The experiences of these communities at Pride in Toronto are not the same as revelers that reap the benefits.

Let us hope that the new Pride Toronto takes this opportunity and will reconstruct itself in such a way that it will become a truly inclusive and equitable organization.

QO Statement on BLMTO and Pride

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