The new Progressive Conservative Party leader in Ontario, Doug Ford, has made it quite clear on many occasions where he stands on LGBTQ issues.
A few years ago he was the sole Toronto councillor to vote against establishing a homeless shelter for young gay men. He also supported his brother, the late Mayor Rob Ford, in the latter’s refusal to participate in, or support Pride activities.
In a recent column, I referred to the United States evangelical movement and their opposition to LGBTQ equality, outright hatred, and contempt for this section of American society. In Canada, we are not immune in such thinking and consequent blatant discrimination.
Doug Ford gained the endorsement from two pastors with a history of preaching hate filled with homophobia and anti-semetism.
Referring to Ford as a “faithful man,” they have no qualms about supporting a man who plainly relishes his disdain for the LGBTQ community. Charles McVety, who is president of the Canada Christian College, and a former TV Evangelist, was removed from the air following complaints that he made “discriminatory comments.” The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that McVety violated codes by saying “distorted facts” and contributing “abusive comments about homosexuals,” and specifically “suggesting that homosexuals prey on children.”
He was also head of the Institute for Canadian Values, a think tank that targets the LGBTQ community.
Paul Melnichek is another Ford supporter and anti-LGBTQ. A very wealthy Canadian evangelist, he also has a well-documented hatred for Jewish people. Ford has surrounded himself with the discriminating religious right and if he wins the provincial election, Ontarians will be faced with a solid increase in discriminating action by Doug Ford. He has already promised to remove sex education from the school curriculum and just may return the province with anti-abortion laws. Time will reveal reality.
We live in a world where we cannot take anything, or anyone, for granted. Whatever lurks in a person’s mind may not be revealed until the time is right for that person to come clean, so to speak.
Whatever is on Doug Ford’s mind will come to light, but we do know that he gladly accepted the support of the evangelical community and that group is well known for opposing LGBTQ rights and equality, and indeed the existence of members of that section of our society. We are regularly exposed to discrimination and one may believe that huge steps have engulfed the LGBTQ community, and all other minority groups within our society.
The moves are at best baby steps and will continue on that path. Discrimination will not end any time soon. We live in a world where leaders wage war, where people are exterminated by bombs and other means, chased from their homes by those who have no regard for human life, and where those who are deemed of lesser human qualities endure discrimination. The light at the end of the tunnel is dim at best.
Do we just give up and cease to struggle? No, that is not an option, certainly not for millions who continue the fight for equality. We may have leaders who care less about present or future generations, but it is up to each of us to vote against the Donald Trumps or the Doug Fords of this world, thereby making steps to eliminate possibilities a reality.
We are part of the 7.5 billion who occupy the globe, so the work is arduous. Equal treatment, equal opportunity and equality in all its forms are ours to obtain. After all, equal rights are human rights.
Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in the Amherst News. Comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org.