May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Since 2005, May 17 has been dedicated to the fight against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, marking the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

For decades, CUPE and the broader labour movement have been at the forefront in fight for LGBTQ2S+ rights. CUPE members sought the inclusion of sexual orientation in employer anti-discrimination policies, lobbied for marriage equality, campaigned for transition support for transgender members, and fought to uphold the rights to gender identity and expression in our workplaces and our communities.

Today we honour and celebrate these important gains while also remembering the ongoing need to eliminate homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia around the world.

Although nearly 30 countries recognize same-sex marriage, by contrast, more than 70 countries still criminalize consensual same-sex conduct. This includes 6 countries that effectively impose the death penalty on consensual same-sex sexual acts. In 6 other countries, the death penalty is a possible punishment.

While same-sex marriage is legal in Canada, many other barriers to LGBTQ2S+ rights persist. Hate crimes against LGBTQ2S+ people continue to increase year-over-year in Canada and people who identify as LGBTQ have a lower average income—$ 39, 000 versus $59, 000—than non-LGBTQ Canadians

In Ontario, one of Doug Ford’s earliest acts as Premier was to scrap Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum and to replace it with a new curriculum stripped of references to consent, sexual orientation, gender identity, and several elements relating to Indigenous teachings.

As we now know, Ford’s decision to scrap a curriculum supported by public health experts was part of a larger trend: time and time again we have seen the Ford Conservatives endanger community members by ignoring expert advice and pandering to private interests. We deserve better.

There is clear evidence that these challenges persist in light of the disqualification of numerous Liberal candidates over the past few days for homophobic remarks. Our work is clearly far from over.

On June 2, we have an opportunity to elect a government that truly supports LGBTQ2S+ people and all other equity-seeking communities by voting for the Ontario New Democrats.

Today, under the leadership of the Pink Triangle Committee, our union and our movement call on all of you to recommit to taking action within your workplaces. Community, and at the ballot box to end discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Together we can create the Ontario we deserve.