Across the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) members and allies are out in the streets taking action to celebrate their pride and challenge homophobia and transphobia. As a union that has long fought to advance rights at work, in communities and internationally for LGBTQ people and their families, Unifor has much to celebrate this pride season.
Regional Pride Committees have worked hard to bring a celebratory but political Unifor message to pride events across Canada. Visit unifor.org/pride for the event listing.
“Showing up in support of Pride truly matters to LGBTQ members,” said Kellie Scanlan, National Representative and LGBTQ staff liaison. “Pride celebrations show the wider community that Unifor will rise up and resist discrimination and hate. Strong Local union participation helps to make this message even louder.”
Recognizing pride is important but also unions have a responsibility to keep up the fight for human rights and inclusion of all LGBTQ workers. In Canada, LGBTQ people still face higher levels of violence and discrimination, but in this year’s pride there is something to celebrate!
A new law is giving transgender people increased protection and legal rights. Bill C-16 has passed and amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and expression as prohibitive grounds for discrimination, this protection will also apply to the Criminal Code. The Bill received royal ascent on June 20, 2017.
“Bill C-16 is a major victory. The federal government has extended the same human rights protections to transgender people that other communities have had for many years,” said Human Rights and International Director Mohamad Alsadi. “While this will not immediately end discrimination, it is a powerful tool for equality.”
In the workplace Unifor members can also take concrete action to challenge hate and advance equality for transgender workers. For example, bargaining committees should include gender identity and gender expression as prohibitive grounds of discrimination and harassment in collective agreements.
Stewards can also speak up to help make work safe and supportive for transgender workers by advocating for transition plans. A good transition plan includes ensuring confidentiality, access to washrooms and uniforms that are consistent with their gender, appropriate medical coverage and other necessary steps. Read the Workers in Transition guide to help get started, at unifor.org/pride.