The recent appeal hearing by the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board regarding the set-up of bible study for ex-cons by the Daybreak Prison Ministries was an example of on-going discrimination against the gay community that exists and remains a dominant part of our society.
Royce Harris, representing Daybreak, made it quite clear that gay men would not be allowed in this facility.
In a letter to the board, I made reference to the fact that we are as all others, protected under the laws of this country and province. My letter reads in part: “Canada is one of the Western nations where we would like to believe all of its citizens are treated with equality and respect, regardless religious affiliation, atheism, racial differences, country of origin, mental or physical disabilities, gender identity or sexual orientation. In a country where we pride ourselves as a frontrunner of human rights and where we may enjoy freedom of choice and many other aspects of a free nation, we would also expect a country where we practice respect, let people live in dignity and in peace. Those freedoms are to be enhanced by acceptance of our differences and when it is broken a decidedly disappointing turn affects our total well-being. The Nova Scotia Human Rights prohibits “discrimination against an individual or class of individuals on account of sexual orientation.”
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms assures us of total equality. Daybreak Prison Ministries and Canaan Land Ministries therefore, are in conflict with our charter and human rights acts in Canada and Nova Scotia. The gay community has experienced hardships in attaining equal rights and treatment over the centuries. This appeal, if successful, will further allow for homophobia and discrimination to continue in this province and Cumberland County.
This is a question of human rights and our rightful place in Canadian society. I am aware that this is a matter of zoning and I recognize the right for an appeal, but we must be aware that other factors must be considered so that we may experience a further reduction in discrimination in the Province of Nova Scotia.
This letter is an appeal to the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board to recognize the harm these organizations will bring to the Town of Trenton, in that exclusion of gay men would be contrary to Canadian values. All Canadians are entitled to equal rights, opportunity and equal treatment. If the ministries win the appeal it will surely be a huge step backward for equal treatment and discrimination will continue which is against the laws of our country and province. The LGBTQ community is a productive and contributing section of our society and deserves the human right to exist along all others in peace and contentment.”
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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.