The hostile attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people aggravated by the lack of proper legislation, explicitly prohibiting discrimination against those groups, result in human rights violations that go against the spirit of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (OHCHR par. 2). There are 77 countries that still treat homosexuality as a criminal offense and five countries that have capital punishment for those who engage in same-sex relationships (OHCHR par. 2). Canada’s progress toward legal equality of LGBT community testifies to the deep belief of its citizens in the fundamental values of democracy and freedom.
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After issuing Charter of Rights in Freedoms in 1982, Canada became a world leader in the struggle for the rights of LGBT people (Graupner and Tahmindjis 98). It also was one of the first countries that made same-sex marriage legal. However, this remarkable progress was a hard-won victory in an arduous battle rather than a natural change in attitudes over time. Social movement in 1971 put a beginning to the wave of protests against prejudice based on sexual orientation (Historica Canada par. 9).
Numerous organizations such as the University of Toronto Homophile Association and the Community Homophile Association of Toronto emerged at that time and helped to make a shift of public opinion on the issue (Historica Canada par. 9). Their efforts would have meant little without support from the country’s first homosexual publication The Body Politic that was printed in Toronto (Historica Canada par. 9).
There was a backlash from Canadian legal bodies resulting in police harassment and mass prosecution for “indecent acts” (Historica Canada par. 12). However, LGBT communities were ready to fight against the institutional injustices and systemic prejudice to change harmful attitudes and legislations. The story of Canadian progress in defeating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is the story of individuals who were not afraid to show active resistance to those who trampled human freedoms and desires (Gallager par. 14).
The peaceful revolution they made was the result of numerous demonstrations and legal battles rather than benevolence from authorities. LGBT community grew more politicized and strong over the years of struggle and was capable of taking proactive steps towards battling HIV/AIDS epidemic (Historica Canada par.13).
The emergence of public organization AIDS Vancouver in 1983 helped to implement a successful strategy for harnessing the rampant growth of incidence rates of the disease (Historica Canada par.13). This meant that country was on the course of transformation for the better. These and other victories marked the beginning of the tectonic shift of the Canadian culture (CBC News par.12). The long-standing tradition of stigmatizing same-sex relationships gradually gave way to their acceptance in the public sphere. Canada was motivated by a sense of true patriotism and was willing to change its cultural footprint. Because real patriots are not opposed to the idea of holding up “the mirror of this nation’s better, ideal self” so it would be able to see its wrongdoings and correct them (Kennedy par. 14).
The story of the evolution of the same-sex rights in Canada contains important lessons for those who are willing to study the country. It shows that every social issue contains a variety of angles that need to be considered in order to build a strong foundation for the future of the nation. Therefore, Canada should be studied from the perspective of different social groups and communities. It might help to understand that the countries defending human rights of their citizens will be on the right side of the history.
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CBC News. Same-Sex Rights in Canada. 2012. Web.
Gallager, Bob. LGBT Progress is a Canadian Success Story. 2016. Web.
Graupner, Helmut and Phillip Tahmindjis. Sexuality and Human Rights. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 2014. Print.
Historica Canada. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights in Canada. n.d. Web.
Kennedy, David. The Truest Measure of Patriotism. 2000. Web.
OHCHR. Combatting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. 2016. Web.