FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2007
NDP Marks 40 Years of Struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transsexual and Transgender Rights:
Federal Council adopts comprehensive new policy on LGBTT issues
Ottawa - Forty years ago this month, the New Democratic Party took a historic stand for equality and justice in Canada.
On November 7, 1967, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeal of George Everett Klippert, who had been condemned to indefinite imprisonment for consensual sexual relations with other men. The next day, Tommy Douglas, the first leader of the NDP, rose in the House of Commons and called for homosexuality to be decriminalized.
Since then, the NDP has never ceased to lead the pack in defence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual rights. New Democrats succeeded in banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, tirelessly worked for equal marriage, and are fighting today for international LGBTT rights and for an end to discrimination based on gender identity.
As proof of its firm resolve to stand up for full equality and human rights, the NDP marked this important anniversary by unanimously adopting a comprehensive range of policies on LGBTT rights during its Federal Council in Winnipeg on November 3.
“This action by the NDP Federal Council gives us the clearest and most comprehensive policies on LGBTT issues of any party,” said Bill Siksay, MP for Burnaby–Douglas and NDP critic for LGBTT issues.
These policies, sponsored by the NDP-Quebec Section and by the Burnaby–Douglas (BC) and Trinity–Spadina (Ont.) riding associations, go to the heart of the struggles the LGBTT community faces today. In particular, they call for policies that protect young LGBTT people from the hatred and social inequity that causes such appalling rates of suicide and homelessness among them. They also take a clear stance against the discrimination faced by refugees fleeing homophobic discrimination and violence; for legal protections and equity for transgender and transsexual people; and for the Canadian government to meet its responsibilities to work for human rights for LGBTT people around the world.
“Canada has led the world in equality and participation of gay and lesbian citizens. But challenges remain. Transsexual and transgender Canadians need full human rights protections, and LGBTT people in Canada and around the world suffer prejudice and discrimination, even to the point of violence and death. Our work is not yet done,” Siksay concluded.
For more information:
Joanne Deer, Director of Communications, 613-236-3613
Transsexual and Transgender Rights:
comprehensive new policy on LGBTT issues
WHEREAS the fight for the liberation of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and transsexuals is not over; and
WHEREAS gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered and transsexuals of the world suffer daily from government-enabled atrocities, both legally and extrajudicially, and that 73 countries criminalize sexual relations between people of the same sex, and that nine of them call for the death penalty for such relations; and
WHEREAS refugees, who flee their country because of the persecution in view of their sexual orientation or their gender identity, are inhumanly belittled or stereotyped by the civil servants of Immigration Canada; and
WHEREAS evidence shows that gay and bisexual youths in North America amount to more than half of all attempted or successful suicides among male teenagers raising the suicide risk 500% higher than among heterosexual teenagers; and
WHEREAS people of non-normative gender identity or presentation on the physical, psychological or behavioural (transgendered, transsexuals, genderqueers and intersexuals) levels, suffer an extremely acute degree of discrimination and harassment both on the social and official and governmental levels, that may translate by a lack of opportunities, job opportunity denials, non-recognition of any aspects of their gender identity, denial of essential services, even medical, hate, contempt, increased risks of social problems and poverty, as well as violence and death; and
WHEREAS a majority of provincial and territorial legislation on human rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act formally prohibit discriminating for reasons of gender identity; and
WHEREAS no province allows changing the legal sex assignment without medical certification of the sex change surgery (while it is possible in the United Kingdom and in some American States), which causes endless legal and official problems for transgendered people; and
WHEREAS the New Democratic Party boasts a proud history of fighting for the rights of sexual and gender minorities, they must therefore pursue,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP adopt the following policies:
• that criminalization of consensual homosexual relations between adults, anywhere in the world, is a violation of human freedom the same as any other violation of individual freedom;
• that, everywhere in the world, the Canadian Government should leverage its international prestige to make sure individuals who are detained because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or transsexual are freed, with the same urgency with which it would pursue and condemn any violation of human rights;
• that the Government should pursue the objective of prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity as reasons for discrimination in the international human rights agreement;
• that refugees who flee their country following discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity should have the right to fair review of their case by public servants, requiring the adequate training of public servants and raising of their consciousness regarding the treatment of refugees; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NDP explicitly adopt policies fostering the following measures:
• adding gender identity and expression, based on physical, psychological or behavioural criteria, as reasons for discrimination that could warrant granting the refugee status to come to Canada;
• implementation of a flexible system to officially recognize gender identity based on criteria other than the physical attribution of gender in order to respond humanly, understandingly and fairly to the community in question; and
• The NDP work for the full equality of transgender and transsexual Canadians ensuring their ability to live happy, secure and productive lives and participate fully in our society, our communities, and our Party;
• The NDP urge the government to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act, or do so itself when it forms government;
• The NDP move to amend legislation governing hate crimes and sentencing to include protection for trans Canadians;
• The NDP work in solidarity with the trans community, advocacy organizations, the labour movement, civil society, and other levels of government to address issues of job and housing discrimination, discrimination in the provision of services, discrimination in the health care system including the need for full Medicare coverage of Gender Reassignment Surgery and related therapies and procedures, suicide and mental health, appropriate relations with law enforcement officials and agencies, the issuance of appropriate identity documents including passports, and other issues that may be identified;
• The NDP urge NDP elected officials and Party members to stand in solidarity with members of the trans community and participate in Trans community events such as Trans Pride and the other Trans celebrations including Trans Day of Remembrance events across the country each November; and
• The NDP work in solidarity with the trans community and partners in other countries to seek the full equality and security of trans people worldwide; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NDP adopt the following policies:
• that it support funding and implementing new and robust initiatives to demystify sexual orientation and gender identity in schools across the country;
• that it support funding and implementing resources for youths of sexual and gender minorities who have left home, throughout the country;
• that the Party adopt a high profile and active position in the fight against suicide and homelessness among youths of sexual and gender minorities, at the grassroots and political levels, across the country; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, as a first step, the NDP undertake to abandon its own practices which could be harmful to the full participation of transgender and transsexual people:
1. That it affirm that, as far as the party is concerned, gender is a matter of self-definition, and therefore that people are of the gender with which they identify; and
2. That it replace on its membership forms, the choice between “male” and “female” with “woman” check-box to the list of equity groups with which members can identify, thereby allowing us to maintain our usual activities in promoting the participation of women, while recognizing the possibility of multiple modes of gender identification; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that there be uniform age of consent for all sexual activity in Canada without any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.