Talking equality at Pride event
Comments on social media recently about the LGBTQ community only make the fight for equal rights harder.
That was part of the sentiment Wednesday at a panel discussion entitled “Bias Aside for Pride’’ in Charlottetown, part of ongoing Pride Week activities.
Stewart McKelvey, AIDS P.E.I. and Pride P.E.I. hosted the panel discussion on the lesbian gay bisexual transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) social justice history in the province.
“One thing we’d like to continue seeing is equal rights for all people and ensuring that people in the queer community have legislation that ensures that they are safe and have equal rights in the workplace, health care . . . all aspects of their life,’’ said Chelsey Rogerson, communications co-ordinator with Pride P.E.I.
A Summerside business owner recently came under fire for comments he posted on Facebook against painted rainbow-coloured crosswalks in Charlottetown.
Rogerson said they would prefer to focus on companies that are supportive of Pride.
“There are many of them, and we are very appreciative of the support that we have from our local community. We are saddened to see those types of comments and we hope that it will be used as a teaching moment. Hopefully, people can learn from it and grow from it and we can move forward.’’
Nola Etkin, chairwoman of the AIDS P.E.I. board and founding co-chairwoman of the Abegweit Rainbow Collective, said the rainbow colours symbolize equality for all.
“I think that there’s a lot of fairly hateful and ignorant comments that have been made and that white washing, which is implying the colour of white represents everybody, is problematic,’’ Etkin said. “It hides diversity instead of celebrating it. The rainbow has always been a symbol of inclusion, and its an inclusion of everybody.’’
As for the legal fight, Etkin said there has been a lot of progress over the years — protection under the Human Rights Act, marriage rights, benefits at the workplace for same sex partners, protection for families and laws for transgendered people, just to name a few examples.
“I think trans rights are still a work in progress,’’ Etkin said. “There are still challenges for anyone who is different.’’
Chera-Lee Gomez, an associate lawyer with Stewart McKelvey, said it’s the firm’s first time hosting after forming a diversity and inclusion committee last year.
She said the panel discussion was a chance to hear how the law has affected those taking part and how they may have felt and continue to feel about discrimination. “This (panel discussion) allows us to get more knowledge and grow relationships so that we move forward in a positive way,’’ Gomez said.