This year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia on May 17 falls at the end of the National Rainbow Week of Action, organized by Momentum Canada.

It is vital that we show our support for the protection of rights for members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. Support for the Rainbow Week of Action and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia have a special importance this year, as a coalition of partners sign on to the week. Labour unions and organizations, including CUPE’s National Pink Triangle Committee and the Ontario Federation of Labour, have pledged their support and CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee also has put forward a resolution to join as a partner.

As allies of 2SLGBTQIA+ groups and individuals, we understand that when one group is targeted, we are all targeted. Our promotion and participation in events like those throughout the Rainbow Week of Action are becoming even more imperative, given the current levels of attacks and the targeting against those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

In Albert, the government has instituted new rules to ban transgender female athletes from women’s sport categories. In Ontario, we have seen the education minister flirt with policies like those in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, ones would require students to obtain parental permission for pronoun or name changes, and that would penalize educators who didn’t comply with the rules. This development isn’t just a concern of CUPE members who are trans, but to any CUPE members who work in schools, in recreation program, in social services, or anywhere that young people should be able to seek validation and reassurance.

The conflict we see created around 2SLGBTQIA+ issues is not just divisive; it is a malignant form of a distraction. Those on the far right take the legitimate anger that people have around “kitchen sink issues” like the cost of living, low wages, and job precarity, and use that fear and frustration for their own ends by channeling both against our children, families and neighbours.

Supporting the Rainbow Week of Action and marking International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia are ways to strike back this wicked agenda. CUPE Ontario is proud to mark May 17 and proud to promote the events of Rainbow Week of Action, which has received welcome support from CUPE members across the province.

Many of you have either attended or plan to attend the rallies in their communities. The largest rally of the week is planned in Toronto for May 16; if you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, please drop by Barbara Hall Park, 519 Church Street at 11.30am. Please also join the letter-writing campaign and encourage others in your local to send a message to your MP to speak up for “a more free, equal and socially just future — for 2SLGBTQIA+ people and everyone in Canada.”