Fifty years after the historic Stonewall uprising of June 1969, the struggle for Two Spirit and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer & Questioning (2S/LGBTIQ) rights is far from over.
Pride 2019 takes place in an increasingly dangerous environment for 2S/LGBTIQ people. The backlash against inclusion, diversity and queer rights includes a deadly escalation of murders of trans women. The recent report of the Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls noted the persistent violence against two-spirit Indigenous people. Conservative provincial governments are working to undermine and roll back the equality gains achieved through decades of struggle. Neoliberal austerity policies imposed by Liberal and Conservative governments are accelerating cuts to public services, disproportionately harming 2S/LGBTIQ and other marginalized people.
The Ford government in Ontario scrapped the updated sex-ed curriculum whose additions included 2S/LGBTIQ issues, education on consent, and online protection. Ford’s “Student Choice” initiative will undermine funding for 2S/LGBTIQ centres and groups on campuses. The newly-elected Kenney government in Alberta similarly hopes to walk back protections for Gay-Straight Alliances—organizations with a proven record of reducing suicide rates in schools, for all students. At the federal level, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer voted against Bill C-16 which extended human rights and protections for transgender people. Scheer supports a policy similar to Ford’s “campus free speech” mandate, which would tie public funding of post-secondary institutions to their willingness to permit expressions of hate speech on campus.
All of this comes at a time when 2S/LGBTIQ people are already highly marginalized. As many as 25-40% of Canada’s homeless youth identify as 2S/LGBTIQ. Queer people in Canada are still disproportionately likely to be victims of violence, with rates two-to-four times that of their straight peers. Hate crimes against 2S/LGBTIQ people in Canada are also statistically the most likely to be violent in nature. “Conversion therapy” still remains legal in many parts of Canada.
The struggle for equality is a global issue
On a global scale, the rise of far-right and so-called “populist” forces is fuelled by promotion of hatred of women, immigrants, racialized communities, and 2S/LGBTIQ people. While some countries have made progress towards equality and diversity, others have adopted new laws to criminalize non-heterosexual relationships, and South African athlete Caster Semenya has been targetted by bigots to bar her from track and field competitions. Anti-2S/LGBTIQ violence is on the rise in the U.S. The Trump administration’s proposed redefinition of gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth” is part of a wider push to impose narrow fundamentalist restrictions on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to roll back women’s reproductive rights.
The spread of violence and bigotry reminds us that Pride was born in activism and struggle against police violence in our communities. The corporatization of Pride, and the institutional participation of uniformed police and military personnel in Pride events, have made them less, not more inclusive.
2S/LGBTIQ rights are human rights. Full equality for 2S/LGBTIQ people means winning political, social and economic reforms that guarantee a good quality of life, the freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity, and that challenge patriarchy and straight privilege. It means resisting corporate power, and opposing the gender division of labour in capitalism. Adopting full legal and political protections for sexual orientation and gender expression, and gender identity, and respect for the bodily diversity of intersex people, is urgently needed to strengthen working class unity and turn back the rising tide of hate and reaction. Only the achievement of a socialist society free of exploitation and oppression can fully guarantee 2S/LGBTIQ equality.
The Communist Party of Canada and the YCL-LJC demand:
- Full legal and political protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, gender expression, and the bodily integrity of intersex people.
- Employment equity legislation for Indigenous people, women, disabled people, racialized, and 2S/LGBTIQ people.
- Housing and shelters for homeless 2S/LGBTIQ youth, along with increased social assistance and action for full employment.
- Safe haven for refugees fleeing state-sponsored homo-, trans-, and biphobia.
- Strengthened enforcement and penalties for hate crimes, and a ban on hate groups.
- 2S/LGBTIQ-straight alliances in public schools and inclusive 2S/LGBTIQ-positive sex-ed curricula.
- Increased funding for anti-oppression and equity-seeking programs.
- Enforcement of trans rights.
- A federal ban on “conversion therapy”.
- End public funding for religious schools.
- Regulate social housing and care facilities to end elder abuse and the “re-closeting” of retired 2S/LGBTIQ workers.
- End two-tier age of consent laws for 2S/LGBTIQ youth.
- Remove the blood donation ban against gay men and trans women.
Unite the Fight!
- Build active solidarity with all members of the 2S/LGBTIQ community, including those who are marginalized through racism, poverty, sexism, transphobia, and ableism.
- Strengthen the overall fight against austerity policies and corporate power.
- Fight ongoing police repression, brutality and murder of members of the 2S/LGBTIQ, Indigenous and racialized communities around the world.
- Reject “pink-washing” as a way to justify militarism, aggression and war.
Joint Pride 2019 statement from the Communist Party of Canada and the Young Communist League of Canada