May 16, 2014
The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission:
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission joins with the people of the province in honouring the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17. The day is a reminder of the challenges that the LGBTQ community has overcome while highlighting the issues that continue to demand our attention.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been prohibited in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1997, when sexual orientation was added to the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Code.
In December 2004, the Provincial Government announced it would issue same-sex marriage licenses after the release of a landmark Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador decision, marking a significant achievement in the LGBTQ struggle towards human rights equality.
The Human Rights Code was repealed and replaced in its entirety in 2010 with the Human Rights Act, which continued protections for the LGBTQ community against discrimination and harassment. In December 2013, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador passed an amendment to the Human Rights Act to expressly include gender identity and gender expression in the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act recognizes that every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights. International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia reminds us that while progress has been made, full social equality among all citizens regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression remains to be achieved. Unfortunately, the Human Rights Commission continues to receive complaints from individuals who have been discriminated against or harassed because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have made great strides in learning to respect and include sexual minorities in society. Anti-bullying programs focused on supporting LGBTQ youth in the province are leading the way in Canada. But we must continue to do more – our communities must be safe spaces for LGBTQ Newfoundlanders and Labradorians of all ages. We must value diversity as a fundamental asset to the vitality of our communities,” said Remzi Cej, Chair of the Human Rights Commission. “Legislative changes ensure that we have legal protections for the LGBTQ communities in the province, but we must work to incorporate this progress in all aspects of our lives. By protecting the rights of LGBTQ Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we protect the rights of our family members, of our friends, of our neighbours.”
The Human Rights Commission is committed to fighting the devastating effects of homophobia and transphobia by promoting an understanding of, acceptance of and compliance with the anti-discrimination provisions contained in the Human Rights Act, 2010: assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/statutes/h13-1.htm . As part of its mandate, it also works to educate the public about legal human rights protections, the benefits of diversity, and the goal of full and meaningful inclusion of all people in society, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The Human Rights Commission is available to provide public education programming on these and other human rights areas.
For more information on the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission, please visit: www.thinkhumanrights.ca.
- 30 -
Carey Majid, LLB
2014 05 16 10:20 a.m.