Laboring For Right: Unions and Sexual Diversity Across Nations

How the Labor Movement and the Gay Rights Movement Work Together
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Between and , courts in Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario were ruling that excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage was unconstitutional, though with implementation delays designed to give the federal Parliament time to act legislatively. In , the Ontario Court of Appeal said the same but in this case decreed that its ruling would take effect immediately—a step soon followed by courts elsewhere. The federal Liberal government of the day then decided that there was no chance of reversing the judgement on appeal, and promised legislation.

Even if the constitutional case made the passage of legislation almost inevitable, substantial mobilizing by religious conservatives required LGBT response, led by Egale Canada. Its energetic interventions pressured a reluctant Liberal government to secure the passage of federal Human Rights Code amendments in the middle of that decade. Several years later, the marriage battle gave the group renewed visibility, though its growth would be a far cry from large institutionalized LGBT groups in parts of Europe and the United States.

Egale was still managing on few resources during the height of the marriage campaign, with full-time staff of five and an annual budget of half a million dollars. It also still had much less visibility in francophone Quebec than elsewhere in Canada. Marriage legislation was passed in , and even if a new hard-right leader of the Conservative Party promised to revisit the issue, Stephen Harper conceded defeat at the end of not long after assuming the prime ministership. At this stage, there was no government in Canada, however conservative, that was offering significant resistance to the full recognition of same-sex relationships.

This did not mean that inequity in family policy had been eliminated, for there were still challenges to overcome on parenting especially. The registration of two same-sex parents on birth certificates was one issue; access to surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproduction was another. Despite the energies devoted to family issues by lesbian and gay activists across the country, the movement as a whole was expanding its issue range during this time.

The fragmentation of that constituency and the extreme disadvantage experienced by most trans people limited the potential for stable group formation, but in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto there was a major increase in activist voices calling for greater recognition in the LGBT movement, for greater protections against discrimination, and for easier access to the healthcare interventions required for transitioning. In Vancouver, the Foundation for the Advancement of Trans-Gender Equality was established at mid-decade, and the first significant demonstration for trans rights drew people in Activist pressure from mainstream LGBT groups and trans networks spurred the beginnings of a rights shift, with courts and human rights tribunals increasingly ruling that gender identity and expression were covered by existing statutes.

In , the Northwest Territories legislature was the first in the country to explicitly include gender identity in human rights law. Pressure on schooling issues was also ramping up from the late s on, as more activists became impatient at the unresponsiveness of educational authorities to LGBT marginalization in a country where so much change was occurring on other fronts. Toronto had witnessed a long history of activist networking before this, first among educators and then among young people themselves, but now teachers and students were organizing in several provinces and many local boards from Victoria on one coast to Halifax on another McCaskell, ; Rayside, In some cases, they encountered stiff opposition from religious conservatives, for example, in British Columbia near the end of the s.

In that struggle, Gay and Lesbian Educators were supported by the B. Teachers Federation, and by the turn of the century teacher unions in other provinces were increasingly recognizing the need for change. By the mids, students were following their U. Egale too was taking up schooling issues, and like other groups it was using the prevalence of harassment and bullying as a policy wedge. Organizing within progressive religious networks also remained an important part of the broader LGBT movement.

More faith communities within the religious mainstream were publicly inclusive, in some cases accepting lesbians and gay men as ministers and rabbis. The Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto had become an important center of advocacy, and like other congregations a major sponsor of LGBT refugees. Outside of the big cities, faith communities often worked far from the limelight to change hearts and minds. It recognized prejudice within established LGBT circles but was also prepared to confront silence and discrimination within the Muslim community, which now constituted the largest religious minority in Canada.

Overall, this was a period in which political recognition of sexual minorities had expanded rapidly and to some extent had become normalized. There were certainly important exceptions, schooling being an important issue area receiving, up to the s until then, only localized attention. There were still major LGBT communities facing extraordinary social and economic disadvantage, trans and Indigenous people among them. The gains, however, were unmistakable. After much hand-wringing, centrist parties had come to embrace LGBT rights and even to see political advantage in attacking right-wing politicians for anti-gay pronouncements.

Large corporations had moved beyond the extension of benefits to same-sex couples and were beginning to vie with one another for reputation as LGBT inclusive. Pride marches had grown many times larger than they had been and were popping up in small as well as large cities across the country. The established elements of the activist movement were now thoroughly legitimized and comfortably working inside a wide array of mainstream political channels.

The overwhelming majority of media coverage was at least broadly supportive of the gains secured over this decade, and opposition to the public recognition of sexual diversity was coming to be seen as extreme. The continuing anti-gay preoccupations of the American religious right and the Republican Party may even have increased public and media portrayals of such sentiment as un-Canadian.

From the mids on, the LGBT movement has been less able to marshal unity or a sense of urgency than before. There were large and solidly established institutions in the large cities and, increasingly, even beyond, including those that sponsored Pride-related events, film and arts festivals, and LGBT archives.

These all had important political currents, but more driven by celebration than advocacy. The provision of social services to sexual minorities, particularly to young people and those most on the community margins, was being increased, sometimes through government-funded health and social service agencies, and sometimes through community centers that were explicitly as in Vancouver or de facto LGBT focused as in Toronto. These centers were part of the movement, as were those professionals who advocated for new or enhanced services within local and regional agencies.

By this period, there were LGBT-positive networks in a wide variety of other institutional settings—workplaces, churches and synagogues, educational institutions, government departments, professional associations, and arts bodies. Many of these have had only a modest commitment to political advocacy, but they usually include some activists urging greater inclusivity. Some such centers were well connected to advocacy networks, and facilitated media access to respected expertise in a variety of specialties associated with LGBT community life.

Immigration and refugee issues were also drawing more activism than ever. In , the Toronto-based group Rainbow Railroad was created to support those seeking escape from persecution, and like Egale, to work on improving Canadian government responsiveness. Groups such as this, alongside long-established networks of immigration professionals across the country, were also attentive to screening processes applied to sexual minority refugees that set either unrealistic standards for proving homosexuality or for determining the unfriendliness of places from which claimants were escaping.

The success of the overall LGBT movement in securing formal rights associated with sexual orientation created opportunities to extend those rights to include gender identity and expression. Efforts to secure legislative guarantees against discrimination on those grounds were finding success across the country, either in the formal addition of those terms to human rights statutes or in declarations from human rights commissions that they would interpret existing grounds to include trans rights. Federal action was delayed by the continuing resistance of a Conservative government that gained office in , though its defeat in the election cleared the way for enactment of such a measure in Despite such activist proliferation, there were fewer groups focused primarily on political advocacy than in the past.

There were fewer bookstores and newspaper offices that were once the heart of LGBT politics. The explosive growth of the Internet may well have been a factor in the decline of such community hubs. Although expanding the ease of communication between those supporting LGBT claims, and potentially broadening the reach of advocacy groups, the development of social media may have reduced the capacity for such groups to generate serious activist energy to the work required for effective grass-roots campaigning. Breadth, in other words, may have come at the expense of depth of commitment.

It helped mobilize support for the inclusion of trans rights in federal law during the politically unfriendly time of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. In , it secured a formal apology from the federal government for the dismissal of thousands of government employees in anti-gay purges that lasted for decades in the postwar period.

Despite all this laudable work, however, it was more difficult for Egale to retain cross-country prominence. In Quebec, the Coalition LGBT has played a similar role and now hosts large galas attracting politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as other mainstream community leaders Tremblay, a. It spends more time on parenting issues, particularly in response to the challenges faced by same-sex parents in overcoming restrictions in access to surrogacy and assisted reproduction.

Another of the most established groups is the Fondation emergence, which has developed public education programs targeting prejudice and has became the major Canadian supporter of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. In broad terms, the advocacy agenda and the array of groups articulating political goals are not categorically different from those to be found in other big cities.

Since , the mainstream media and the political arena in Quebec have been recurrently seized by debate over the integration of immigrants, and specifically over the wearing of symbols or clothing with religious significance, in a society increasingly drawn in principle, if often not in practice to a kind of assertive secularism found in France. The target of such concern is unmistakably Muslims, who constitute as in the rest of the country the largest religious minority.

Although there has certainly been support for such exclusionary policy in the rest of Canada, there is no credibly LGBT community voice for it anywhere outside Quebec. The fact that the federal government apology for civil servant purges elicited almost no legislative opposition is one example of how little appetite there is, at least in the current leadership of the Conservative Party, for preying on opposition to public recognition of sexual diversity. In general, however, the LGBT movement has been cautious about proclaiming Canada as a world leader, not least because there have been recent examples of federal and provincial governments playing to anti-gay sentiment.

It is true that Pride groups tout the LGBT-positive environments they operate in to draw in more visitors, and certainly LGBT groups focused on immigration and refugee issues can hardly avoid acknowledging that Canada is advantageous for sexual minorities fleeing persecution. But in general, movement activists are aware of the distance still to be travelled for full-fledged inclusiveness.

The history of activism in Canada, as elsewhere, has been marked by recurrent critiques about exclusion, and although increased overall LGBT engagement with trans issues has diminished not eliminated complaints of marginalization within the movement, tensions over movement priorities and leadership from racialized minorities have intensified. The most vocal critiques have come from queer blacks, who were prominent in the Canadian groups that formed under the banner of Black Lives Matter, originating in the United States Walcott, Policing was a major focus, reflecting the activist preoccupations of black communities across North America.

Although there were many in the LGBT community at large who believed that police forces had become genuinely more inclusive, instances of police harassment long after the period of high-profile raids in the s and s had maintained a degree of distrust, especially among activists representing trans people, sex workers, and racialized minorities.

This was soon followed by a similar ban in Calgary and a partial ban in Vancouver. A number of other LGBT community institutions were, at the same time, coming under fire for not being sufficiently inclusive in ethno-racial terms, with black activists frequently taking the lead. Divisions over how to address such issues are increased by the range of communities that can reasonably claim to have been largely left out of the political and institutional gains of previous decades.

Among those most dramatically on the margins of Canadian society—and LGBT communities—are Indigenous peoples, whose struggles are quite distinct from those of people of color, Muslims, and queers with disabilities. Overall, then, the Canadian movement became more fragmented after the mids, not only by the reduced role of multi-issue groups, regionalization, issue specialization, and reliance on individual court challenges, but also by disagreement over how to approach issues such as ethno-racial inequality.

The relative weakness of religious conservatism has deprived the LGBT movement of the unifying force of a powerful opposition. It also produces complacency not only within sexual minority communities but in the general public as well. Emblematic of that is the decision to close up shop by the dwindling core of activists in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario. And yet there has still been a need for political vigilance. Between and , the federal government was in the hands of a Conservative government that avoided taking on the highest profile issues pressed upon it by religiously traditionalist supporters, but it still undertook many smaller steps to signal its sympathies with their anti-gay agenda Rayside et al.

In Ontario, a new elementary school curriculum on sexual health provoked controversy when first introduced in , in part because of its inclusive messaging around sexual diversity, and even more protest arose when it was reintroduced five years later Rayside et al. By the s, religiously conservative opposition to the public recognition of sexual diversity was weaker than ever, and even conservative parties led by moral traditionalists were usually wary of appearing homophobic—admittedly with important exceptions.

More common are political claims—across a wide partisan spectrum—that Canada and Quebec are models of inclusion worthy of international emulation. From a reviled, quasi-criminal class, we were now included in the constellation of minorities valued by Canadian multiculturalism. Indeed, there has been a significant shift in law, public policy, institutional practice, and public attitudes. By , more than two-thirds of Canadians supported same-sex marriage. Christian-led anti-gay mobilization certainly delayed the enactment of inclusive policies, in Alberta, for example, but ultimately there was no province or territory in which moral conservatives have been able to roll back gains in law, public policy, or institutional practice.

On several occasions, centrist politicians with no deep-seated allegiance to the recognition of sexual diversity recognized the electoral advantage of associating conservative opponents with homophobic extremism. The political gains effected by the LGBT movement in Canada were eased significantly by the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, though courtroom gains have to be understood as a consequence of strategic activism. LGBT movements around the world have in most periods been primarily local or regional, but that is more the case in Canada than elsewhere.

That said, there has been strong cross-regional similarities in the kinds of struggles engaged, the strategies deployed, and the political frameworks used by activists to overcome country-wide reluctance of governments to respond persisting into the s. The Canadian movement, not unlike movements in other places, went from one in the s dominated by radical challenges to the social and institutional status quo, to one that by the s had become less confrontational, less transformative in its aspirations, and more professionalized. But the make-up and outlook of the s movement was more of a blend than most accounts suggest, and even if in the posts environment the movement was a largely reformist one working within established social and political frameworks, we are still seeing confrontational currents emerging under the LGBT umbrella.

The Canadian LGBT movement has had no shortage of issues to take up in the period following the policy takeoff of the s and early s. There are also legitimate critiques pointing out that there are still sexual minority communities who experience discrimination within and beyond LGBT communities. In some cases, this has generated new activist energy, though not all such causes have unified the broad community or its most established activist networks.

LGBT community engagement and activist mobilization have been shaped by social and technological change. The much-touted connectivity associated with the Internet, for example, has enhanced the capacity to mobilize activism, but also increases isolation and potentially diminishes preparedness to join in collective action. As Robert Putnam points out, the decline of civic engagement began decades ago, long before the massive spread of the Internet.

The Canadian movement, then, is fundamentally different from that which started to surge into public view in It is less confrontational and less driven by transformative ideologies. There seem to be fewer focal points to the movement—fewer groups with wide political agendas.

There is more issue specialization and more emphasis on the application of pressure inside mainstream institutional channels. There is less large-scale mobilization and perhaps less capacity for that. There remains, however, a rich set of connections within an ever-expanding range of sexual minority communities, and we are right to recognize that political energy can still be applied to insist that governments, religious institutions, employers, and service providers respond inclusively to the full range of community members asserting their rights to be included.

Adam, B. Moral regulation and the disintegrating Canadian state. Adam, J. Krouwel Eds. Find this resource:. Corriveau, P. Demczuk, I. Hunt, G. Laboring for rights: Unions and sexual diversity across nations. Jackson, E. Flaunting it! A decade of gay journalism from the body politic. Kinsman, G. The regulation of desire: Home and hetero sexualities.

McCaskell, T. Queer progress: From homophobia to homonationalism. Toronto, ON: Between the Lines. McLeod, D. Lesbian and gay liberation in Canada: A selected annotated chronology, — Namaste, V. Invisible lives: The erasure of transsexual and transgendered people. Rayside, D. Queer inclusions, continental divisions: Public recognition of sexual diversity in Canada and the United States. Mandatory for some born intersex. This table: view talk edit. Tables: view talk edit. Same-sex intercourse illegal.

Death penalty. Death penalty on books but not applied. Prison on books but not enforced 1. Same-sex intercourse legal. Marriage 2. Marriage recognized but not performed 3.

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How do unions around the world respond to issues raised by sexual minorities? Much has been written on labor's response to issues raised by women and. Ouvrage recensé: Laboring for Rights: Unions and Sexual Diversity Across Nations edited by Gerald HUNT,. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, ,

Civil unions. Limited domestic recognition cohabitation. Limited foreign recognition residency. Same-sex unions not recognized. Laws restricting freedom of expression and association. States which did not support either declaration. States that are not voting members of the United Nations. States which supported an opposing declaration in and continued their opposition in South Sudan, which was not a member of the United Nations in Part of a series on.

Around the world Intersex rights Transgender rights movement. Aspects Parenting adoption Immigration Military service Relationship recognition marriage Organization.

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Years Table List Category Book. Related Human rights minority rights Discrimination Freedom Index. LGBT portal. Sexual orientation Homosexuality Bisexuality pansexuality polysexuality Asexuality gray asexuality Demographics Biology Environment. Academic fields and discourse Queer studies Lesbian feminism Queer theory Transfeminism Lavender linguistics. All countries and territories listed that where annexed or established into reichskommissariats by Nazi Germany during World War II where restored as independent countries or reincorporated into their previous countries during or after the war and thus re-legalized equal age of consent laws for same-sex couples in those areas.

Notes Note that while this template lists several historical countries, such as the Kingdom of France, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, etc. Illegal since Up to 3 years imprisonment with fines up to 10, dinars, [63] torture, [64] beatings, [65] or vigilante execution [66]. Canary Islands Autonomous community of Spain.

De facto unions legal since [68]. Legal since [69]. Legal since [70] [71]. Spain responsible for defence. Bans all anti-gay discrimination [72]. Since , all documents can be amended to the recognised gender [73]. Ceuta Autonomous city of Spain. De facto union since [74]. Legal since [75]. Legal since [76]. Bans all anti-gay discrimination [77]. Male de jure legal, but de facto illegal since Penalty: Up to 17 years imprisonment with or without hard labour and with or without fines under broadly-written morality laws.

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De facto : illegal: Islamic Sharia Law is applied De jure : Not specifically outlawed Penalty: Up to 4 years in jail or death [79] [80]. Madeira Autonomous region of Portugal. De facto union since [81] [82]. Legal since [83]. Legal since [84] [85] [86]. Portugal responsible for defence. Bans all anti-gay discrimination. Since , all documents can be amended to the recognised gender [87]. Melilla Autonomous city of Spain.

De facto union since [88]. Morocco including Southern Provinces. Illegal since Penalty: Up to 3 years imprisonment and fines. South Sudan. Constitutional ban since [ citation needed ]. Illegal since as the French protectorate of Tunisia Penalty: 3 years imprisonment.

Legal No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country ; [67] [95] Age of consent discrepancy [67]. Burkina Faso.

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Legal No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country [67]. Constitutional ban since Cape Verde. Bans some anti-gay discrimination [67]. Male illegal since s as the Gold Coast Penalty: 10 years imprisonment or more. Female always legal [67] [97] [92]. Illegal since Penalty: 6 months to 10 years imprisonment. Ivory Coast. Legal No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country ; Age of consent discrepancy [67]. Illegal since Penalty: 1 year imprisonment.

Illegal: Islamic Sharia Law is applied Penalty: Capital punishment for men, not enforced ; prison and a fine for women. Legal since Legal since [] [].

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UK responsible for defence. Illegal since Penalty: 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Sierra Leone. Illegal since as Togoland Penalty: Fine and 3 years imprisonment. Illegal since Penalty: Fines to 5 years imprisonment. Central African Republic. Illegal, penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a fine []. Constitutional ban since []. Illegal since Penalty: 3 months to 20 years imprisonment. Democratic Republic of the Congo. Republic of the Congo. Equatorial Guinea.

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Illegal since Penalty: fine, and 3 months to 2 years imprisonment. Illegal since as the East Africa Protectorate Penalty: up to 14 years imprisonment. Illegal since only Zanzibar Illegal since Penalty: Up to life imprisonment. Male illegal since Female illegal since Penalty: Life imprisonment.

Beatings, torture, or vigilante execution are also common. Illegal Penalty: Up to 3 years imprisonment. Illegal Penalty: Up to 15 years. Illegal Penalty: Up to death. Somaliland Disputed territory. Illegal Penalty: 5 years imprisonment and fines. Legal No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the territory [67]. Civil solidarity pact since France responsible for defence. Under French law. Male illegal Penalty: Up to 5 years imprisonment. Bans all anti-gay discrimination [] [].

Mayotte Overseas region of France. Legal No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the region [67]. Legal since [67]. Legal since presidential signature pending []. Bans all anti-gay discrimination []. Legal since []. Bans some anti-gay discrimination. Legal gender change recognized as a constitutional right since []. Male illegal since the s Female always legal [67] [92].

Male legal since Female always legal [67]. May possibly change gender under the National Identity Cards Act 9 of []. Illegal since as British Central Africa Protectorate [] Penalty: Up to 14 years imprisonment, with or without corporal punishment for men up to 5 years imprisonment for women rarely enforced; suspending moratoruim legality disputed [67] [] [92].

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Bans some anti-gay discrimination [67] []. Male illegal since not enforced; repeal proposed [92] [] Female always legal [67] [] []. South Africa. Limited recognition of unregistered partnerships since ; same-sex marriage since Since Anti-discrimination laws are interpreted to include gender identity; legal gender may be changed after surgical or medical treatment.

Domestic partnerships since []. Legal since November and between May and June Domestic partnerships in Nova Scotia ; [] Civil unions in Quebec ; [] Adult interdependent relationships in Alberta ; [] Common-law relationships in Manitoba []. Legal in some provinces and territories since , nationwide since []. Since []. Pathologization or attempted treatment of sexual orientation by mental health professionals illegal in Manitoba and Ontario since , and Vancouver and Nova Scotia since Transgender people can change their gender and name without completion of medical intervention and human rights protections explicitly include gender identity or expression within all of Canada since [] [] [] [].

Greenland autonomous constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark. Registered partnerships between and Existing partnerships are still recognised. Stepchild adoption since ; [] joint adoption since [].

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Since Denmark responsible for defense. New user? Register now! Library Locations Map Details. Central Library - 5th Floor Borrow it. Dallas , TX , US. Library Links. Embed Experimental. Layout options: Carousel Grid List Card. Include data citation:. Copy to clipboard Close. Cite Data - Experimental. Data Citation of the Item Laboring for rights : unions and sexual diversity across nations, edited by Gerald Hunt.