Tuesday, May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. CUPE Ontario encourages all members to join in marking this day and renewing their commitment to take action in their workplaces and communities to end discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

From the beginning, CUPE has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies beyond the labour movement to build better communities—communities built on a foundation of dignity and equality—and most importantly, working with others to help the voiceless find their own voices so they can make themselves heard.

Throughout its history, CUPE and indeed the labour movement in Ontario have been at the forefront of equality for all people. While we are proud of CUPE’s own role in working to bargain protections on behalf of our members in the LGBTQ community, we also recognize that we must never leave this work half-completed.

That is why over the years, CUPE Ontario and CUPE Locals across the province have taken tangible steps towards equality for members of the LGBTQ community in Ontario, including Toby’s Law, which amended the Ontario Human Rights Code to include gender identity and expression.

Our members stand up for these rights because the struggle for equality is universal. The absence of equality is an injury, and an injury to one is an injury to all. No one—regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression—can stand by on the sidelines and let others take up the struggle on their behalf.

Here in Canada and abroad, the global focus of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia will be on the issues of mental health and well-being. This is particularly fitting. While a wave of profound change has enhanced the rights and protections of LGBTQ people globally, we continue to see resistance to change, often couched in terms of stigmatizing, pathologizing and ‘other-izing’ LGBTQ people for their orientation and/or gender identity and expression.

As a democratic union, following the will of our membership, we call on all our sisters and brothers in CUPE across Ontario to embrace the struggle for equality and to take part in Pride events around the province. You will find a calendar of events running from now until the Fall at cupe.on.ca/pride.