Fort St. John marks 50 years of gay rights in Canada

The North Peace Pride Society met with city councillors and supporters Friday afternoon to mark 50 years of gay rights in Canada.

“As we raise the rainbow flag, we are reminded of the progress Canada has made as a nation and as a society in the acceptance and celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, and queer individuals as full-fledged members of the nation,” Lyle Goldie said.

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The path was laid by former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the late 1960s, and became official in 1969 with the passing of amendments to the Criminal Code to decriminalize homosexuality. Trudeau's famous line from the era: there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, Goldie noted.

Rights for LGBTQ people in the country were later solidified with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

"Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Canada are bleseed with the freedoms and equality they posses today," Goldie said.

"However, we must remain diligent. While the battle for equality seems to have been achieved, there are forces in society that would welcome a return to pre-1969, where Canadians were harrassed, jailed and discriminated against because of their sexual orientation."

Indeed, the fight for LGBTQ rights continues globally, Goldie said. "Whether for a federal non-discrimination act in the United States, to a repeal of the death penalty by stoning for being homosexual in Brunei," he said.

Mayor Lori Ackerman thanked the group for its work promoting acceptance and inclusion for peope in the community who identify along the LGBTQ spectrum.

“For Fort St. John to be able to fly the flag is extremely important,” Ackerman said.

“Thirty years ago, I almost lost a brother because of his fear. I can say now that he’s happy and healthy.”

A Pride Walk will take place June 1.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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