Refocus with Gerard Veldhoven
I often refer to the treatment of members of the LGBT communities in other nations, especially in on the African continent, Russia and the Middle East.
I must emphasize that here in our own country we have much work to do as homophobia and discrimination continue to be rampant.
We pride ourselves, as Canadians, to be accepting and recognizing diversity. That may be true, but only to a certain extent. Recently, the Government of Alberta voted down a motion to mandate that Alberta schools support the student-led gay-straight alliance groups.
The motion was defeated in the legislature by a vote of 31 to 19.
Liberal MLA Kent Hehr, who introduced the motion said, “In my view it’s very important to make things better for kids today. Gay-straight alliances are proven to do that, reduce bullying not only for those students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and the like, but also reduces bullying in schools.”
Hehr is determined to continue the fight to support the alliances in Alberta schools. We have to be vigilant and continue the long road to equality that has not yet ended. We feel that as a modern, with a well- informed society that these problems do not exist.
We are told that about 80 per cent of Canadians are in favour of equal rights. That figure may not be a true conclusion. Some privately run universities and schools that do not use public funds are totally immune from practicing discrimination. However, one would like to believe that provincial governments and our federal government would step up to the plate and fully protect all citizens and not a chosen few.
In this case, the Alberta government is guilty of discrimination and must answer to that charge. Hopefully, this will end up in the courts and produce a happy outcome. This provincial government, a body that is responsible to be fair and protective of Albertans, does not seem to realize that they are discriminating and that is against the Canadian Human Rights Act and The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Here we have a Canadian situation that tells us that not all is well within our own country. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, pays lip service by denouncing other nations for their treatment of LGBTs, such as Russia, Uganda and others.
Our government falls short of taking positive action against such rogue nations. The responsibility of our government is to heal things at home also and must step in, as is the case in Alberta. After all, our constitution protects us all. So it is written.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a long time activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.