Community to Rally Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Posted by Wayves volunteer Hugo Dann 10/05/2013

By Bryn Jones-Vaillancourt

Crowd at Halifax's International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia rally in 2012

Pride festivals are on the horizon in many communities across our region; however the first major rally to lead into summer in Halifax will be on May 16 to mark the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHoT). This year’s theme is: Our Bodies, Our Health, Our Rights!

It has been a positive year for LBGTQ Rights in Nova Scotia, specifically Transgender rights when on December 6, 2012 the Nova Scotia Government amended the Human Rights Act to included gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination. Despite the amendment to the Act, transgender people still face many challenges and discrimination in their daily lives. There have been examples across our province of students in post-secondary and secondary schools being discriminated against because they are transgender.

This year’s IDAHoT theme is inspired particularly by issues faced by transgender people and other members of the LBGTQ community in accessing health services. At a fundamental level, the theme provides an opportunity to reflect on one of our basic Canadian rights: access to equitable health care and how it affects people, communities and our province. Creating safe places, with medical professionals who are educated in health needs of the LBGTQ communities is crucial to improving health outcomes across our province. 

In 2013, across Canada, there is still a legal ban on blood donations and organ donations from individuals Canadian Blood Services and Health Canada deem “men who have sex with men. Public health care funding in Nova Scotia does not cover sex reassignment surgery (SRS) for trans* people and the system can be difficult to navigate for those who wish to transition. Also, as our populations continue to age care for LBGTQ seniors that is safe and equitable must become a bigger priority in every corner of our country.

While we are fortunate to have legal protection, the grassroots education is still important because discrimination continues to impact us all. On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. Since 2005 IDAHoT activities have taken place around the world to recognize that landmark and continue the fight against homophobia and transphobia. In Nova Scotia, this is the seventh year that we as allies and LBGTQ communities have stood in solidarity to oppose oppression and discrimination.

This year’s rally will take place on Thursday, May 16,6pm at Halifax’s Grand Parade Square. The rally is organized by community members and representatives from organizations including the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP), Pride Health, Amnesty International and the Youth Project. In keeping with our theme of: Our Bodies, Our Health, Our Rights!, speakers will touch on topics such as trans rights, bullying in our school system and the blood and organ donation ban. Also, we will be lucky to see performances from ‘The Raging Grannies’ and the Youth Project’s ‘Queerios’. The rally will end with a human chain surrounding the Grand Parade in a symbol of solidarity.

IDaHoT is a wonderful opportunity for LBGTQ communities and allies to come together and celebrate our success to push for further change, and to find solutions for how we can always ensure our communities receive equitable access to primary and supplementary health care. IDaHoT is about never settling, making connections across our communities, and driving change for LBGTQ peoples.

The photo above is of trans* rights and health care activist Jessiah MacDonald talking to the crowd about his Human Rghts challenge to MSI. (Photos by Kirk Furlotte).

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