Exploring - Never Stop

A Story of Contrasts

Published 31, May, 2011

Ken Monteith reports in on the laudable measures of the Government of Quebec to put the boot to homophobia.

A Story of Contrasts

I'm sure that I am not alone among the readers of this blog cringing in horror as government after government in the United States repeals human rights protections for gays and lesbians and moves to declare same sex marriage illegal. Even as public opinion there seems to be moving rapidly in the right direction (toward acceptance), the battles seem harder and the losses more bitter.

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This all makes me even prouder of what rolled out in Québec on May 20th. Three days after the International Day Against Homophobia, the Government of Québec presented its Government Plan of Action to Fight Homophobia, complete with specific measures, the participation of no fewer than eleven different ministries and funding to the tune of $7.1 million over the next five years. All this was announced by Minister of Justice Jean-Marc Fournier, who now also carries the title Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Homophobia (I'm not sure if he gets more money for the new title, but surely a prettier driver goes without saying).

This move was the culmination of a long process that forged a solid and respectful collective of over 50 groups and researchers working in the field. It began even before research by the Québec Human Rights Commission yielded a report calling on the government to take concerted action, continued through the adoption of an official government policy against homophobia last year (the second government to adopt such a policy after Brazil) to this year's first, the plan of action with funding to ensure that it gets done. and the plan itself in French here.

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We all recognize that this is just a first plan of action and that this fight will take longer than the five years outlined in the document. The commitment, however, is there. This is unfortunately rare among governments these days, looking for any excuse to avoid funding new initiatives if not actively seeking to suppress the rights of sexual minorities. But none of our parties in Québec is against this and no one is railing against uttering the word "gay" in our schools and workplaces.

The recent federal election may have made my province look a little orange in comparison to the others, but we can all be sure that the rest of the rainbow is here, too, and working concretely toward a laudable goal.

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