Press Release

August 9 to 19, 2018

Almost 40 years and yet…

 

A 2018 Overview of Sexual and Gender Diversity Related Issues

Montréal, August 1, 2018 – Close to 40 years after the first Gayrilla, the sexual minority march in Canada organised by the Pink Brigade and almost 30 years after the demonstrations against the police raid of the Sex Garage club that led to the emergence of celebrations of the Pride in Montréal, much remains to be done to achieve the liberation and the inclusion of the sexual and gender diversity in our society. On the eve of the launch of the 2018 Montréal Pride Festival celebrations, members of the organization’s board, management and employees are taking position on issues related to sexual and gender diversity in 2018.

The following is an overview of the issues facing the LGBTQ+ communities today.

Indigenous Persons

Few LGBTQ+ organizations concretely take into account the special needs of Two-Spirited persons and those of indigenous sexual and gender diversity. The consequent isolation and discriminations are real issues for the wellbeing of sexual and gender minorities in indigenous communities. Homelessness, poverty and incarceration of Two-Spirits persons and indigenous LGBTQ+ persons are more prevalent than within non-indigenous LGBTQ+ communities.

In Canada, indigenous people are almost three times more likely to become HIV-positive than persons of other ethnic groups (in 2014). Professionals in indigenous health care have identified an important need for resources adapted to the needs of their communities regarding HIV prevention, drug abuse, and mental health and welfare services.

LGBTQ+ Families

Some sexually and gender-diverse families are still not legally and socially recognized, their composition notwithstanding (be they pluri-parent, poly-parent, trans-parent or other families). They are confronted by homophobia and transphobia, among other forms of gender and sexuality-based violence.

The LGBT Family Coalition is calling for:

1. An end to these discriminations and that forming a family (adoption, foster care, assisted reproduction, surrogate motherhood, etc.) be accessible to all;

2. Children from LGBTQ+ families to be able to grow up in a social environment that recognizes and acknowledges their families;

3. Children of LGBTQ+ parents to have access to information about their origin;

4. Government practices to reflect the existence of diversity of families in every society.

Trans Persons and Gender Diversity

The application of and compliance with article 10 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms that provides protection to persons against all discrimination based, among others, on gender identity, still need to be solidified. Discrimination and violence against trans persons remain to this day, which weakens, marginalises and endangers these persons.

Migrant Trans Persons

In Quebec, the Office of the Registrar of Civil Status refuses changes to non-citizens of first names and sex designation on identity documents. This exposes vulnerable migrant persons and LGBTQ+ refugees to being disrespected and being socially marginalised.

Trans Parents

The legal recognition of trans parents remains partial. If any trans person who is a Canadian citizen can change his/her name on a child’s birth certificate, the mention of parental filiation remains unchanged. Therefore, not all parents can indicate their expressed gender identity on the document (mother, father or parent). The preservation of gametes (sperm and eggs) is not easily accessible or refundable in the case of a medical transition (surgeries and hormone therapy).

Gender Diversity and Non-binary Trans Persons

In most provinces including Quebec, persons whose gender identity and expression is non-binary, become invisible (non-binary trans persons, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, agender, etc.) Many of them, notably those undergoing a legal and/or medical transition, are exposed to daily discrimination and violence. Recognition of gender diversity is crucial to foster the wellbeing and the social engagement of these individuals. Birth certificates without gender mention are available in British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

HIV/AIDS

There is now an established consensus among healthcare professionals and activists for the U = U for undetectable = Untransmittable Campaign. It has now been scientifically proven that treated seropositive persons with an undetectable viral load present a negligible risk for the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS.  However, public health policies and laws in Canada and notably in Quebec, have yet to reflect this recognized consensus.

The slowness of public institutions in responding to discrimination issues (in immigration, in employment and in the school system) causes a stigmatisation of persons living with HIV/AIDS.

The campaign aims to inform communities and the public at large in order to end the stigmatisation and the discrimination that persons living with HIV have to face. Also, self-testing for HIV/AIDS is not always available and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) remains difficult.

HIV/AIDS and Criminalization  

In Canada, people living with HIV are still the target of criminal prosecutions, guilty verdicts and prison sentences for the alleged non-disclosure to sexual partners of their HIV seropositive status. Canada ranks third in the world for the absolute number of prosecutions based on non-disclosure of HIV status allegations. This crime in punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with the mandatory registration on a sex offenders’ register.  Persons are found guilty even when the possibility of HIV transmission was minimal to nil. The Canadian approach has been criticized notably by United Nations expert bodies, Human Rights instances and scientists.

Last November, the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization published a Community Consensus Statement that requests three measures from governments:

1. Guidelines for criminal prosecutions based on the scientific consensus;

2. A reform of the Canadian Criminal Code to restrict prosecutions against persons living with HIV;

3. Government involvement to reduce disinformation, fear and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Donation of Blood- Men who Have Sex with Men

Héma-Québec and the Canadian Blood Services still refuse donations from men who have had sex with other men over the last year. Criteria remain based on hypotheses rather than on real risk factors based on individual behaviors.  The RÉZO organization is participating in the national “Sex Now” survey to collect blood samples during the (Montréal Pride) Community Day to gather data on the risks associated with blood donations among men.

Blood Donations- Trans Issues  

Canadian Blood Services only accept donations of blood from trans persons when they have had their genital surgery for over a year. Otherwise, trans persons are considered according to their gender assigned at birth. Though Héma-Québec states officially that the situation of trans persons is assessed on a case by case basis, in reality trans persons are often refused.  Several negative experiences have been reported within the trans community.

Community Organizations

In both Quebec and Canada, the funding of community organizations remains precarious and LGBTQ+ communities are no exception. The HIV organizations grouped under the COCQ-SIDA umbrella are requesting that the Health and Social Services ministry’s Community group support program be increased. According to ASSTeQ (Quebec Transsexual and Transvestite Health Action), federal funding of its Community Initiatives Fund for HIV and Hepatitis C must also be increased. The needs of the LGBTQ+ communities are evolving over time. The communities are in need of funding to respond to their new realities and ensure continuity with current on-going campaigns.

About the Montréal Pride Festival

 

Since 2007, at the initiative of Montréal’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Montréal Pride Festival has promoted their rights and celebrated their cultural wealth and social advances. The largest gathering of the communities of sexual and gender diversity (SGD) in the Francophone world works locally on a daily basis while serving as a beacon of hope for people living in LGBTQ+ hostile regions of the globe. In 2017, the festival generated a total attendance of 2.7 million visitors. In 2018, the festivities will be held from August 9th to 19th. More information is available on the web page, the Facebook page, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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Document written in Tiotia: ke in July 2018

 

by Lucile Crémier and Raphaële Frigon

 

for the Montréal Pride Festival

François Laberge
Communications Director
[email protected]
Telephone: 514 903-6193, ext. 3523

Interview Requests:
Nathalie Roy
Consultant, Media Relations
[email protected]
Telephone: 514 889-3622

Links

Indigenous Persons Issues

Rainbow Health Ontario – Two-Spirit and LGBTQ Indigenous Health
CATIE (Canadian Aids Treatment Information Exchange) – Où le VIH frappe-t-il le plus durement?

Undetectable = Untransmissible
CATIE (Canadian Aids Treatment Information Exchange) – Le VIH au Canada: Guide d’introduction pour les fournisseurs de services
COCQ-SIDA (Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le sida) – INDÉTECTABLE = INTRANSMISSIBLE
Prevention Access Campaign – Consensus Statement (version originale)
Sidaction – Déclaration de consensus (traduction francaise)

HIV/AIDS Criminalization
Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization (CCRCV) – Community Consensus Statement

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