With the month of PRIDE coming to an end, it would be appropriate to provide an overview of the legal developments in the last year with regard to LGBTQ rights.
- NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo proposed a bill to end conversion therapy for LGBTQ community members. The bill passed with unanimous approval from all parties and has surpassed the U.S version of the bill as it includes transgendered individuals as well. Cheri DiNovo noted that the attempted suicide rate among transgendered individuals is 50% and there is an absolute need to include them in this bill. This bill also prohibits medical professionals from billing the practice under OHIP.
- Transgendered inmates in Ontario will now be dealt with based on their own gender identity rather than their sexual traits. Inmates will be housed according to the gender identity they identify with and by their chosen names rather than their legal names. This legislation is significant as it protects the rights of a transgendered individual in the same way non-LGBTQ individuals’ rights would be protected. Transgendered individuals were often isolated from the rest of the inmate population but they will now be integrated into the general population when possible.
- Sex –Ed will now discuss LGBTQ topics. Although this legislation has received significant backlash and continues to be attacked by critics, many support the legislation. Gay marriages, intercourse and issues will be discussed in the classroom to ensure that youth identifying with the LGBTQ community are not isolated. The suicide rate among LGBTQ community members is significantly higher than non-LGBTQ youths and this legislation hopes to address the discrepancy with knowledge.
- The HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) has created an initiative known as Trans Legal Needs Assessment to address the needs of transsexual individuals. HALCO aims to identify barriers transsexual individuals face when accessing legal services and to eliminate those barriers to help increase their access to justice. Legal Aid Ontario is helping to fund this project to show their support for gender identity and expression under the Human Rights Code.
- Canada has infiltrated a new program geared towards helping transgendered families. The legal education program helps transgendered parents stay with their families after divorce. According to this project, 1 in 4 parents in Ontario are transgendered and numerous transgendered parents lose their children due to their transition. This project aims to help families maintain family relationships and provide better service in family law matters for transgendered individuals. Moreover, the project aims to equip legal professionals to provide better legal service to transgendered parents.
Ontario has made some major strides in moving towards equality and protecting the human rights of transgendered individuals this year. Ontario has also made some major commitments to achieving and maintaining equality for the LGBTQ community, especially in the transgendered community. Let’s see what next year has in store.
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Points of discussion:
1. What do you think of these new developments?
2. What are some legal topics regarding the LGBTQ community you believe Ontario should address?
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