Article published by Star Metro Calgary
For politicians, it’s not enough to merely show up and smile on Parade day.
That’s the view that federal Member of Parliament Kent Hehr holds dear to his heart as he gears up to participate in his 15th Calgary Pride festival. Hehr is a well-known ally and friend of the LGBTQ+ community and it’s one of the most exciting times of the year for him.
“This has long been an area of passion for me, to be an ally and advocate,” Hehr says.
“But the proof is in the pudding, and as politicians we need to be passing good public policy to increase people’s rights and reduce discrimination. It’s the right thing to do, and I’m honoured to serve in that role.”
Previously as a provincial MLA, Hehr was the first to speak in the Alberta Legislature about the need to allow students the option to form Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in their schools. It took time, but Hehr’s Motion 503 ultimately became the law of the land in Alberta.
“I saw how high the suicide rates were for LGBTQ2 kids and how many students weren`t feeling supported at school. This was a way to help kids support one another.”
Now as a federal MP, Hehr notes that the Liberals have a strong record on LGBTQ2 rights, and Hehr points out that every significant federal advancement in LGBTQ2 rights for Canadians has been made by Liberal governments.
“From decriminalizing homosexuality to legalizing equal marriage to the steps we’ve taken just in these past couple years, those are all Liberal achievements.”
These more recent changes include protecting trans and gender-diverse individuals from discrimination and passing legislation so that past criminal records related to consensual same-sex activity can be destroyed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also delivered a formal apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians for past wrongdoing, including discrimination and job losses.
“I’ve lived in Calgary all my life and have been really happy to see the shift in attitudes over time,” Hehr adds. “Real change takes more than that though — it takes legislation.”