2SLGBTQ+ “Week Of Action” Taking Place Across Canada

“We are at a juncture of where we want to be as a country, do we want to be a bastion of human rights?” 

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Source: Cecilie Bomstad/Unsplash

Pushing back against the rise in anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate seen across the country, a week dedicated to building strong communities is planned to take place across the country. 

Dubbed the Rainbow Week of Action, the goal is to organize a national series of events promoting diversity, community, and inclusion. The initiative aims to amplify voices demanding fundamental rights and protections for queer and trans individuals amidst a backdrop of increasing hate and discrimination.

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Starting on Monday, May 11 and running to Friday, May 17, the week began with an initial 14 cities. According to Fae Johnstone, executive director of the advocacy group Momentum, events are taking place in cities across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and more. 

At the time of writing, 25 events are listed on the Rainbow Day of Action website and organizers hope it will be one of the largest coordinated political events in Canada over the past two decades. 

“Anyone is free to tap in,” Johnstone told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network over the phone. 

“Anyone can participate, whether it's helping organize or attending a rally.”

If you can not make a rally, or there is not one nearby, Momentum has other ways people can get involved. Besides helping promote local 2SLGBTQ+ events and organizations, there is also a letter-writing campaign to Members of Parliament aimed at expressing concern about the “rise of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate and hateful rhetoric in Canada.”

Momentum takes aim at politicians who are “scapegoating 2SLGBTQ+ people” for political gain and using the community to “distract and divide” rather than addressing issues impacting all Canadians. 

While according to Johnstone opponents of the event have attempted to cast the week as a “rally for genital mutilation” and other tropes typically deployed against the 2SLGBTQ+ people. 

“Overall the response has been positive and excited,” she said. 

Likening the current fight to keep inclusive education around sexuality and gender identity in schools with the previous fight for marriage equality, learning and building on the work of activists of the past is an essential part of the ongoing fight for equality. 

“The current moment has symbolic implications to who we are as a country,” Johnstone said. “We are at a juncture of where we want to be as a country, do we want to be a bastion of human rights?” 

The past two years have been particularly tumultuous for the 2SLGBTQ+ people, particularly the transgender community. 

School board meetings, and even school trustee elections, have become of intense interest to conspiratorial and far-right activists who are opposed to comprehensive sex education and inclusive policies for queer students. Fall 2023 saw a large multi-city “1 Million March 4 Children” protests held outside of legislatures, city halls, and schools.  

While many anti-trans candidates who ran in the 2023 provincial elections did not reach office, conservative premiers in three Canadian provinces have instituted policies impacting the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 

Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick and Scott Moe of Saskatchewan put forward policies targeting preferred pronouns in schools, mandating that transgender or non-binary youth obtain parental consent before using their preferred pronouns in educational institutions. The policy removes privacy protection for students, effectively allowing schools to "out" children to their parents when they are exploring a new gender or identity without the student's consent. Outing children to their caregivers against their will can put them at risk of harm, according to numerous experts who have been testifying as such in response to a wave of anti-transgender legislation in the United States.

Alberta’s Danielle Smith also introduced similar legislation as well as new regulations specifically targeting trans youth including preventing them from accessing gender-affirming care. 

In February 2024, opposition leader Pierre Poilievre weighed in on the issue, marrying it to other criticisms of the Trudeau government and accusing the media of distorting Smith’s proposed policies. 

He later took the comments further and voiced support for keeping transgender women ( who he refered to as “biological males”) out of spaces like women’s bathrooms and change rooms. 


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