Canada is one of the countries with the best protection for the rights of sexual and gender minorities. Canadian society is increasingly open and sensitive to sexual and gender minorities. Noteworthy legal and social gains have been achieved over the past 50 years.

Many legal issues remain outstanding, and much remains to be done to achieve greater acceptance of sexual minorities. Among other things, eliminating discrimination from all environments, adapting services to the needs of the LGBTQ2+ community, and securing support for their social contribution.

Enough with the phobias!

What is that really about?

Homophobia

Negative attitudes towards homosexuality that can lead to direct or indirect discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals or people seen as such. There are variants of homophobia, such as lesphobia or biphobia, when the aversion is specifically directed at lesbian or bisexual people.

Transphobia

Negative attitudes that can lead to direct or indirect rejection or discrimination against transgenders and cross-dressers, or anyone who transgresses gender or sexual and gender standards and representations.
Translation based on the Fondation émergence lexis : https://www.homophobie.org/definitions

These phobias are still too prevalent in our society, and they cause (provoke) negative attitudes through words and actions that hurt. There is a long list of such words and actions:

  • jokes
  • derogatory remarks
  • allusions
  • hostile comments
  • stereotypes
  • prejudices
  • harassment
  • bullying
  • rejection
  • insults
  • threats and physical assault

There is still cause for concern, judging by the findings of a study entitled ‘‘LGBT Realities.’’ The study provides an overview of the situation faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Canada. It is based on an extensive survey conducted between January and June 2017 of 2,700 Canadians, 800 of them heterosexual.

LGBT+ Realities – Findings of the study sponsored by the Fondation Jasmin Roy and conducted in 2017 by the CROP survey firm

Main findings

  • ”Thirteen percent of the Canadian population aged 18+ belongs to the LGBT community.

  • Because they fear being rejected, hindered from progressing in their career or mocked and bullied, 54% of LGBT respondents did not come out to their work colleagues, and 45% did not come out to their classmates.

  • Reflection about gender identity and sexual orientation seems to begin earlier in life among individuals of the younger generations (15 to 24 years of age) and leads more quickly to acceptance and coming out.

  • Fifty-four percent of respondents from the LGBT community feel that their life will be or has been more difficult than the life of a person not part of a sex or gender minority. Among transgenders, that perception is held by more than 80%.

  • Forty percent of respondents from LGBT groups say they have experienced discrimination. In 40% of cases, this discrimination occurred at work. The highest proportion who experienced discrimination was in the Atlantic.

  • LGBT individuals who belong to other non-Caucasian ethnocultural groups have a harder time than other members of the LGBT community because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, especially within their families.

  • Aboriginal LGBT respondents set themselves apart by their tendency to live more comfortably with their sexual orientation or gender identity than the average member of the LGBT community.

  • The majority of respondents (78%) believe that some LGBT groups harbour stereotypes about other LGBT groups.

  • Eighty-one percent of LGBT individuals say they have felt or they feel distressed. Among transgenders, this percentage was 98%.

  • And 58 % of respondents from LGBT groups felt that the available support and assistance resources were insufficient. “

Environments without discrimination

All across the country, governments and numerous educational institutions and workplaces are adopting policies on sexual orientation and diversity, and developing tools to promote respect and create environments that are free from discrimination.

In schools

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
- Nelson Mandela-

Between December 2007 and June 2009, Égale Canada surveyed more than 3,700 high school students across Canada. It is preparing to conduct a second national survey, in 2020, to assess and identify discrimination faced by Canadian LGBTQI2S high school students, and to determine to what extent Canadian high schools are more or less inclusive.

The report released in 2011 describes the situation in several schools as follows:

  • “LGBTQ students are exposed to language that insults their dignity as part of everyday school experience and youth with LGBTQ family members are constantly hearing their loved ones being denigrated.

  • LGBTQ students and students with LGBTQ parents experience much higher levels of verbal, physical, sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, harassment and abuse than other students.

  • Most LGBTQ students and students with LGBTQ parents do not feel safe at school.

  • The situation is worse on all counts for female sexual minority students and youth with LGBTQ parents, and even worse for trans students.

  • Many students, especially youth of colour, do not have even one person they can talk to about LGBTQ matters.

  • Many schools have a well-developed human rights curriculum that espouses respect for and dignity for every identity group protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms except for LGBTQ people.

  • Teachers often look the other way when they hear homophobic and transphobic comments and some of them even make these kinds of comments themselves.”

In schools that have made efforts to introduce LGBTQ-inclusive policies, GSAs, and even some LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, the climate is significantly more positive for sexual or gender minority students.”

Access this report :

Source in English:
Every Class in Every School: Final report on the first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools : https://egale.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/EgaleFinalReport-web.pdf

Source in French:
Chaque classe dans chaque école: rapport final d’Égale sur l’homophobie, la biphobie et la transphobie dans les écoles canadiennes : https://egale.ca/chaque-classe/

Schools are introducing more and more initiatives to fight bullying, whose victims are young people, some of them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Provincial governments have even brought in legislation forcing school boards to intervene.

However, these school programs are not without their detractors. The goal is to create welcoming, safe and inclusive learning environments for all students, but not everyone agrees on how to go about it.

GSA (Gay-straight alliance) program in schools
GSA Guide 
https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/safe_schools/mygsa/gsa_guide.pd

Suggested books and readings for high school and college students on stereotypes, bullying, the realities of sexual diversity, gender identity and trans identity.
http://www.colloquehomophobie.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CSQDOC-_341563-v2-Liste_SECONDAIRE.pdf

https://curio.ca/en/collection/the-lgbtq-experience-in-canada-2481/

In the workplace

More and more employers in Canada are seeking to create safer and more inclusive work environments, to optimize their employees’ potential, and to eliminate the barriers to employment faced by Canada’s LGBTQ2+ community.

According to Pride at Work Canada

“Biphobia, homophobia and transphobia still exist in the workplace and remain under-represented in diversity and inclusion conversations. Only 59% of organizations communicate strong leadership messages about the importance of LGBT inclusion in the workplace to all employees.
While only... 

14% of organizations consider LGBT-inclusive diversity and inclusion as required knowledge for manager roles.

11% of organizations have their people managers undergo advanced training on LGBT issues relevant to their role.

7% of organizations expect managers to make resources and guidance available to LGBT employees.”

https://prideatwork.ca/en/

Pride at Work Canada campaigns employers to encourage them to act, and unions have gotten several clauses included in collective agreements to protect the rights of LGBT workers.

Better adapted resources

Social and health care services that are better adapted to the realities of sexual minorities

The impact of homophobia and transphobia on the health of young people and the AIDS crisis have raised awareness about the fact that sexual and gender minorities are facing physical, mental and sexual health issues related to their sexual or gender identity. They are more susceptible to mental health problems (anxiety, depression and suicide), sexually transmitted diseases and certain forms of cancer, while the transition of trans individuals requires complex global approaches.

Organizations are working on better adapting services to the specific needs of sexual minorities and to reducing the barriers related to negative attitudes and lack of information of workers about the health issues faced by sexual minorities. Some of the gaps in health care service appear to be linked to heterosexism.

What is heterosexism?

“Heterosexism is a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that other people are heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterosexism

The AIDS crisis in the early 80s led to a large coordinated effort in Canada and around the world. The number of individuals affected continues to rise, but according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the number of new cases and deaths keeps falling thanks to treatments.


https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/reports-publications/canada-communicable-disease-report-ccdr/monthly-issue/2017-43/ccdr-volume-43-12-december-7-2017/aids-canada-2016.htm

The Canadian Psychiatric Association released a position paper highlighting the need for the profession to fully understand the situation and the mental health needs of LGBTQ individuals.
https://www.cpa-apc.org/wp-content/uploads/LGBTQ-2014-55-web-FIN-EN.pdf

The beginning of the end of conversion therapies

This controversial practice stems from a theory that people could change their sexual orientation from gay to heterosexual by undergoing therapy. This theory has recently been challenged by groups that defend and promote health.

May 2015 – Manitoba became the first province to prohibit the highly ridiculed conversion therapy.

June 2015 – Ontario passed a law prohibiting the application of conversion therapy to gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans children by prohibiting doctors from billing the Ontario Health Insurance plan for such procedures.