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Celebrating Pride Month

By Nicholas Valela - Pride Month is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate all the 2SLGBTQIA+ members of our community, honour those who have fought the good fight, and recognize that we all have a role to play in ensuring that hard fought progress must be preserved and protected.

While many are familiar with the infamous Stonewall Riots of 1969, which sparked the gay rights movement in the United States, we think it is important to highlight some of the lesser-known struggles and battles won here at home.


1960s

On May 14, 1969, following civil rights campaigns, Canada decriminalized homosexual acts between two consenting adults in private with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Despite this achievement, the changes to the Criminal Code at the time were limited in scope. Remaining indecency laws continued to be used to police homosexuality.


1970s

The We Demand marches in Ottawa and Vancouver in 1971, the first of their kind in Canada, called for further measures to end discrimination. These protests effectively marked the beginning of Canada’s gay rights movement.

1980s

Over 300 gay men were arrested in the Toronto bathhouse raids of 1981, in what the police termed “Operation Soap”, the largest mass arrest in our country since the October Crisis in Quebec. This galvanized the LGBTQ community, triggering large-scale protests and collective action.


1990s

On July 27, 1990, the term Two Spirit (niizh manidoowag) is coined at the third annual Native American / First Nations Gay and Lesbian Conference in Winnipeg. The term allowed Indigenous LGBTQ+ folks to reject other English terms that imposed the Western view of gender and sexuality on Indigenous people.


After years of grassroots appeals for equal access to civil institutions, including marriage, the LGBTQ community won a series of victories in Canadian courts in the 1990s:

  • On June 30th, 1993, in Canada v Ward, the Supreme Court ruled that gays and lesbians could apply for refugee status on the basis of facing persecution in their countries of origin.

  • On May 5th, 1995, in Egan v Canada, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 15 of the Charter – which guarantees the “right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination” – should include sexual orientation.

  • On April 2nd, 1998, in Vriend v Alberta, the Supreme Court finally ruled that provincial governments could not exclude protection of individuals from human rights legislation on the basis of sexual orientation.

  • On May 19th, 1999, in M v H, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to equal treatment, which led to significant advances in relationship recognition for same-sex spouses across Canada.

Meanwhile, in June 1996, through the passage of Bill C-33, sexual orientation was added as a prohibited ground of discrimination pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act.


2000s

Following court decisions and ongoing public debate, in July 2005, the federal government passed the Civil Marriage Act, making Canada the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

In June 2017, both gender identity and gender expression were added as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act owing to the passage of Bill C-16.


On June 21st, 2018, following an official apology from Prime Minister Trudeau for Canada’s role in the criminalization, oppression, and violence towards the 2SLGBTQ+ community, Bill C-66 received Royal assent, which established a procedure for permanently expunging records of those unjustly convicted.


While more rights and freedoms are available to 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians since the 1960s, the battle continues today especially against the rise in anti-trans violence, discrimination, and hate.


We encourage you to find your own unique way to contribute to the movement and make a difference.


The Black & Associates Team wishes Ottawa’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community a happy Pride Month!



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