As a person born in this city and who has watched the changes that have taken place, no shift has been more positive or profound than our attitude toward LGBTQ people, as well as the pride movement. Established in 1990, this parade often evoked backlash and barking from those citizens who preferred to exclude rather than include.
I’ve seen the changes first hand. I first marched in the parade in 2004 as a rank and file citizen. When I got involved in politics, only certain political parties would attend for fear of reprisal from their base.
In a short time, that has changed. And I am thankful for that.
The change hasn’t only been in Calgary: we have had a busy year on Parliament Hill. Since the election, we had the first pride flag raised on Parliament Hill, the first openly gay cabinet minister return to cabinet, and the first prime minister to march in a pride parade.
Further to this new tone and approach, this recent legislative sitting, we introduced Bill C-16. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that everyone can live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose and be protected from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes.
All Canadians should be safe to be themselves. All Canadians should be free to identify themselves and express their gender as they wish, without fear of discrimination. No one should be refused a job, be disadvantaged in the workplace, be unable to access services, or be the target of harassment and violence because of their gender identity or gender expression.
LGBTQ rights are human rights, and these values are Canadian values. These values of inclusion, honesty, empathy, compassion and generosity of spirit – they are what make Canada great and Calgary a fabulous place to live.
I am proud of the fact that the Liberals have been on the right side of moving the chains of justice forward since 1967, with Pierre Elliott Trudeau – with his clear declaration “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” – to Paul Martin legalizing marriage equality, and now to our government bringing in new legislation in the form of Bill C-16.
There is more work to be done, and I am proud to be able to serve in this role to see it through to its finish. Happy pride and let’s make it a celebration we can all enjoy!
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