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Andrew Swan, MLA Minto
May 17, 2016

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Madam Speaker today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. It is a global celebration of sexual and gender identities. It is a chance to recognize how far we have come in Manitoba. It is also a day to reflect on how much work is yet to be done.

All over the world, advocates and their allies are fighting for what matters most to them: the right to be free from criminalization, persecution and stigmatization. Sometimes the fight is simply to live—in many countries, people have to fear for their lives simply for being who they are. Even in provinces like Manitoba, where we are lucky to have strong supports like the Rainbow Resource Centre, we know that members of the LGBTTQ* community suffer elevated risks of violence, and have higher rates of suicide.

It was an NDP government in Manitoba that passed the Human Rights Code, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was an NDP government that extended full marriage and adoption rights to same-sex parents. It was an NDP government that extended family law rights to same-sex couples. It was an NDP government that passed the Safe and Inclusive Schools Act to ensure that our schools were safe and inclusive environments for all students. And it was an NDP government that passed legislation to make it easier to change sex designation on government documents; for people in transition.

We can celebrate that the Canadian government will today be following Manitoba’s lead, and will introduce changes to federal human rights legislation to protect gender identity from discrimination. It is the right thing to do. Last time a Private Members’ Bill introduced by Randall Garrison, an NDP MP from British Colombia passed the House of Commons but was delayed by the Senate. Let us hope that this time, the unelected and unaccountable Senate does not delay the advance of human rights. I hope that this time all members of the Assembly will raise our voices in support. That would be an authentic way to show our pride.