Canada has finally joined the ranks of countries around the world who have national action plans to support 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. With violence and hate crimes on the rise, it’s not a moment too soon.
Direct support for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities is crucial to help rebuild networks and community hubs devastated by the pandemic. It’s also urgently needed to prevent and address the growth of violent ideologies, at a time when extremist far-right groups are increasingly targeting 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
But the $100 million in funding over five years – announced August 28 – is woefully inadequate to meet the challenges faced by 2SLGBTQIA+ communities today, with instability and increasing violence and hatred directed towards queer communities, compounded by inflation, wage stagnation and job insecurity that affect all workers.
Despite the fact that 2SLGBTQIA+ community members are less likely to report violent incidents to the police, there was a 41% increase in reported hate crimes targeting 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals in Canada between 2018 and 2019. Over half of those crimes were violent. In 2022, family-friendly drag events across Canada, many hosted by municipal libraries, were targeted by hateful comments and threats.The United States are also experiencing a rise in incidents of violence, regressive education laws, and the increased use of trans and homophobic language among conservative lawmakers and pundits.
The plan’s intersectional approach and recognition that some 2SLGBTQIA+ communities experience disproportionate health, social and economic inequities, intensified by colonialism, systemic racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, classism, and other factors, is a step in the right direction.
As labour unionists and human rights advocates, we want to celebrate this funding, but we know the work ahead is colossal– made clear by the results of the community survey that informed the plan and highlights the disparities faced by 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
The plan echoes what many PSAC members already know. 2SLGBTQIA+ members experience discrimination during hiring, their workplaces remain deeply unsafe, and they face barriers in reporting harassment and receiving support. Two-Spirit people are especially vulnerable to harassment because of their sexual orientation, almost half of transgender respondents experienced harassment in the workplace due to their gender identity, and some respondents reported that they conceal their identities in the workplace altogether.
Strengthening 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion in federal workplaces and making amends for the LGBT Purge are both necessary and long overdue. Our union has a long record of advocating for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, most recently calling for 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion as a new Employment Equity group to address ongoing discrimination.
The plan is a good start. But the federal government has to redouble its efforts and dedicate far more resources to battling discrimination, supporting diversity and creating safe and inclusive workplaces if it truly wants to make a historic, lasting difference in peoples’ lives.
*PSAC uses the acronym 2SLGBTQIA+ to include asexual people and communities