2SLGBTQ+ Groups are Planning the Biggest Political Action in Decades to Combat Rising Hate in Canada

Upcoming ‘Rainbow Week of Action’ planned in cities across the country

2SLGBTQ+ communities are organizing the biggest coordinated political actions in 20 years across Canada next week calling on all levels of government to protect and enhance 2SLGBTQ+ rights.

The Rainbow Week of Action is a series of events across Canada from May 11-17 organized by a coalition of national and local 2SLGBTQ+ organizations. Already there are dozens of events planned in cities and provinces across Canada in addition to ongoing letter writing campaigns to political representatives.

Key calls to action include asking political leaders to “publicly condemn the rise in anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate” and “improve 2SLGBTQIA+ health and well-being, including access to and coverage of gender-affirming healthcare.”

Fae Johnstone, Executive Director of the Society for Queer Momentum, says the Rainbow Week of Action is a response to “resurgent homophobia and transphobia” and “politicians lying about queer and trans people to score cheap political points.”

Canadians can chart a better path, Johnstone says.

“We are at a critical juncture where Canadians get to decide who we are as people,” Johnstone told PressProgress. “Are we a country that respects our neighbors, even if we don’t understand everything about them?”

“We are building momentum. We are building the hype and that hype is to not tolerate regression and to fight for a more free and equal Canada for all of our families.”

The Rainbow Week of Action follows a year of escalating safety concerns after three Conservative-run provinces introduced anti-2SLGBTQ+ legislation: Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick

Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre also started promoting anti-trans and anti-science policies ahead of next year’s federal election. Even queer members and self-proclaimed queer allies within the Conservative party are towing the party line.

Conservative politicians across Canada have mainstreamed anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate in response to pressure from far-right hate groups that evolved out of the 2022 ‘Freedom Convoy’ occupations. Many who participated in the convoy movement began targeting family friendly drag events. Last summer, thousands attended marches across Canada opposing sexual education and 2SLGBTQ+ resources in schools.

This wave of hate needs to be met with a counter-movement that advances 2SLGBTQ+ rights, Johnstone says.

“We can’t just react to the mud being thrown at us by the bad guys,” Johnstone explains. 

“These politicians are lying about us. These far right groups are trying to pull one over on all Canadians and we need to speak up and draw a line in the sand to stop them from getting away with it.”

The Rainbow Week of Action will be the biggest coordinated political action for 2SLGBTQ+ rights since the fight for gay marriage in the early 2000s. Gay marriage was heavily opposed by conservative politicians and organizations across Canada, including Conservative leader Pierre Polievre who voted against gay marriage in 2005.

“Our whole legacy as a movement is fighting for freedom,” Johnstone said. “It’s fighting for a world where we can be ourselves without facing discrimination, where laws and legislation don’t hold us back from being who we are. Queer and trans movements for social justice are first and foremost movements for freedom and equality.”

Conservatives are scapegoating marginalized communities for society’s troubles, Johnstone notes, rather than addressing the big issues weighing on all Canadians: Crumbling health care systems, housing affordability, stagnating wages and inflation.

“They’re trying to distract us from their inability to deliver for Canadian families,” Johnstone said.

Several of Canada’s largest unions are supporting the Rainbow Week of Action including: Unifor, CUPE and PSAC.

Billy O’Neil, a Unifor labour organizer, says the labour movement has a historical connection to fight for anti-discrimination policies in Canada.

“If you look historically at the queer and trans community, we have used the labour movement to not only advance fair wages, better opportunities in the workplace, and safer workplaces,” O’Neill told PressProgress. “But we’ve also been able to utilize the labour movement to fight for anti-discrimination policies going back to the 90s, like the opportunity to demand that same-sex couples in the 90s have access to pensions and benefits, just like other workers.”

Unifor members also passed a resolution last year to conduct an equity audit of 2SLGBTQ+ supports in all collective agreements to identify areas for improvement. 

Strong collective agreements can serve as a buffer to protect queer and trans workers from regressive government policies that strip away their access to health care and other supports, O’Neill added.

Union members are able to collectively decide how to use their union resources by participating in the union’s democratic structures.

“Our membership wants us to fight for equality,” O’Neill explained. “Our membership comes together and votes on recommendations and resolutions, and have overwhelmingly supported that the union advocate for equity and specifically for the 2SLGBTQ community.”

“When we don’t have safe workplaces or safe communities, members are not able to fully be their true authentic self, and we all lose out if people can’t be themselves, so it really is fighting for equality.”


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Emily Leedham
Emily Leedham is PressProgress’ Prairies Reporter. Her reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, big money and corporate influence, and systemic racism.

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