by Ariel Troster
How soon we forget that only two years ago, the issue that dominated the election debate was whether people like me should be allowed to get married. Of course, all of the usual suspects lined up to pontificate about how this represented the end of the Canadian family. Several hundred gay marriages later, I am happy to announce that heterosexuality is alive and well, even if Harper and Dion are still fighting to one-up each other as the most fatherly, Leave It To Beaver types.
As queer issues go, marriage was a pretty banal thing to talk about during the last election debate. The leaders didn’t even have to say the word “gay.” With that battle thankfully behind us, the LGBT community is now free to dream bigger than the white picket fence.
Even 10 years ago, gay marriage seemed like an unachievable goal. The radical right have always accused us of promoting polygamy and immorality, and they’re not gonna stop now. So in the spirit of Stonewall and the Toronto Bath House Raids, I bring you the list of Three Big, Gay Issues that will most definitely not be discussed during this election campaign — but should.
1. Lowering the age of consent for anal sex. When the feds voted to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 this year as part of the omnibus crime legislation (a move I continue to argue was motivated by a desire to appease the Religious Right), the age of consent for anal sex is still 18. This is a holdover from the old buggery laws and it represents a clear case of discrimination against gay men.
2. Decriminalizing sex work. The queer community has always argued that adults have the right to decide what to do with their bodies. As it stands, the selling of sex for money is perfectly legal. What’s illegal is the act of solicitation — in other words, the ability for sex trade workers to negotiate their working conditions and safety. Libby Davies has been a vocal supporter of sex trade workers, especially in wake of the Pickton trial. How many more women have to die before we take a stand?
3. Standing up for trans human rights. NDP MP Bill Siksay has introduced two private members’ bills in the past — one to add “gender identity” to the prohibited grounds under Canada’s hate crimes legislation, and another to add gender protections to the Canada Human Rights Act. Simply put, transgender and transsexual people deserve human rights protection. Without formal recognition of their rights, they will continue to suffer discrimination and abuse. Given the recent flap over Conservative MP Pierre Polievre’s views on the issue, we still have a lot of work to do to achieve gender justice.
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