From June 25-29, Toronto will be hosting the WorldPride Human Rights Conference and PSAC members will be there. The conference will bring together GLBT activists from around the world, including many from countries where homosexuality is punishable by life in prison.
As a demonstration of our union’s commitment to queer and trans rights, PSAC will be sending a delegation of union members to participate. This will give our union’s GLBT activists the chance to share stories, gain inspiration, and participate in the global fight for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans human rights.
Kate Hart is a PSAC member and a Passport Officer for the federal government. She is also the National Equity Representative for PSAC’s Union of National Employees and a member of the PA group bargaining team. She sat down with us to discuss what attending the WorldPride Human Rights conference will mean to her.
Why are you passionate about GLBT issues within our union?
I am a trans woman and a lesbian. As a trans woman, I am passionate about getting explicit protections for my community into the Canadian Human Rights Act and hate crimes legislation. I want us to have the same rights and protections as everyone else.
As a lesbian, I am very concerned with the protection of reproductive rights and the slow erosion of the rights of all women that we are starting to see. I also hope to try to help address the inequities still in the system when it comes to same sex adoptions.
What priorities would you like to see our union and the labour movement in general focus on when it comes to GLBT rights?
First would be the trans rights issue – getting explicit human rights protections in all of our contracts. I believe that if we can get it into all of our contracts, then we can ask the question, “If this is the stated position of the government – and it must be if you agreed to it in every one of our contracts – why won’t you let C-279 pass and have it written into law?” And maybe, just maybe getting our union allies in this country to help mount a media/political campaign to move this forward.
The other issue I am seriously concerned about is parental leave provisions within collective agreements. Adoptive parents are “second class citizens” within these collective agreements. They do not have the same leave provisions as a woman going on maternity leave. So, any couple who cannot have a child in the traditional manner is treated like a lesser citizen under the current agreements.
Do you have any personal reflections on your own experience in the workplace that you would like to share?
The union helped me immensely. With the help of PSAC staff and the National President of my component, my transition on the job was almost seamless. I have been extremely fortunate in that I have never had a single issue in the workplace, and I truly believe that the way my transition was handled between the union and my department is a big reason why. I received excellent advice from both – even when I didn’t really want to follow it – and the transition plan and disclosure strategy we came up with made my transition on the job an excellent experience.
What are you looking forward to when you attend the WorldPride conference?
The chance to continue my own education as well as the ability to network with delegates from around the world and learn from them what is really going on – unfiltered by the media – is very important to me. Outside of the conference itself, I am truly looking forward to the Trans March and Dyke March. Marching with my trans sisters and trans brothers from around this country and the world – and knowing it is safe to do so – is incredibly empowering; and marching with my sisters in the Dyke March empowers me just as much but in different ways.
I hope I can bring this energy and these new experiences back to our union allies and reflect the perspectives of other GLBT communities around the world.