FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO - In the past several weeks, there has been considerable discussion about the participation of a Conservative Party group, called LGBTory, in Pride celebrations in a number of Canadian cities.
Earlier this summer, they marched in the Toronto pride parade with Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown leading the delegation -- the first time a PC leader has ever participated. Among some activists, however, the participation of LGBTory has been met with suspicion. A petition was circulated recently calling on Capital Pride organizers to ban the group from marching in the Ottawa pride parade.
Looking at the stances taken by a number of Conservatives (like Patrick Brown) on issues important to the LGBT community, it easy to see why some people question their sincerity. In recent years, the PC leader has voted against adding gender identity and gender expression to the list of protections under the Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. On other occasions, he has supported repealing marriage equality. And at the federal level, the Conservative Party’s Policy Declaration still proclaims its commitment to legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Anger at such political positions is understandable. There is good reason to oppose such outdated stances held by the Conservative parties at both the provincial and federal levels.
However, jumping so quickly to condemn groups like LGBTory may not be the best way to go. Instead, it might be more productive to encourage efforts to create inclusive politics across ALL partisan boundaries. Achieving ‘lived equality’ – our vision at ProudPolitics – means that LGBTIQ+ citizens should be accepted in all parties and in every walk of life. That includes the Conservative Party. We encourage strong and competent leaders to come forward to serve, no matter their political affiliation.
Of course, it is up to groups like LGBTory to push their party as a whole along the route of change and openness. They - and their provincial and federal party leaderships – will have to prove that their intentions go beyond strategic posturing for the sake of getting a piece of the ‘gay vote’. There must be moves to amend policies that oppose marriage equality. Future votes on issues surrounding protection from discrimination will have to shift from past stances.
As anyone who has ever come out to family or friends knows, though, change is not always easy. Whether on the personal or political levels, it is usually something that happens in stages and can take time. Partisans who fly the NDP or Liberal banner, for instance, would do well to remember that not so long ago, those parties also needed pushing on these issues. In every case, it has taken the determination and commitment of leaders on the inside of organizations to get the job done.
At ProudPolitics, we encourage everyone in the community to give LGBTory a chance to show what they can do. We wish them every success in their goal to become an LGBTIQ+ voice inside their party and a Conservative voice within the LGBTIQ+ community.
Let’s all keep the dialogue open and hold back from rush judgements. We look forward to working with candidates, groups, and parties of all stripes.
About ProudPolitics Canada
ProudPolitics is Canada’s only multi-partisan LGBTIQ+ organization aimed at diversifying the face and voice of Canada’s politics by helping emergent openly LGBTIQ+ leaders realize their potential to serve and win elections to all levels of government through candidate support, fundraising, networking, and outreach.
For more information visit: www.proudpolitics.org
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Curtis Atkins, Ph.D.
Deputy Executive Director (Research)