Every year, on the second Wednesday of April, we mark the International Day of Pink. We first began commemorating Day of Pink in Canada in 2007 when two students witnessed another student being bullied because he was wearing a pink shirt and appeared to be gay.

In a show of solidarity and a display the power of collective action, the two students successfully encouraged everyone at their school to wear pink shirts. This gesture, so simple yet so meaningful, inspired Jer’s Vision (now the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity) to establish the International Day of Pink.

International Day of Pink is a reminder of the ongoing work that needs to be done to ensure equality for the LGBTQ2S+ community.

In Canada, prior to the pandemic, LGBTQ2S+ Canadians were twice as likely as their non-LGBTQ2+ counterparts to have experiences some type of homelessness. Similarly, between 2018 and 2019, hate crimes targeting sexual orientation increased by 41 per cent.

The pandemic has only intensified matters as COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted equity-seeking seeking people, including the LGBTQ2+ community. Recent research shows that about one-third of trans and non-binary people across Canada have unmet mental health care needs during the pandemic and about 10% have faced discrimination when accessing healthcare for COVID-19. Barriers to other services have also heightened for the community during this period.

Today, in the face of these inequalities, we remember the power of solidarity.

We remember that, together, we can create a more inclusive and diverse world by unifying against bullying, homophobia, and discrimination. Together, we can elect leaders who support LGBTQ2+ communities rather than chipping away at their rights as the Ford Conservatives have done for four years.

Today, we also honour the work that continues in fighting forward for members of LGBTQ2+ communities and CUPE Ontario has been proud to support the work of a number of coalition partners, and progressive politicians fighting for change in Ontario. Recently, we supported the call for the Gender Affirming Health Care Advisory Committee Act forwarded by the Ontario NDP. This act is an important step toward equality and equity of access to vital public services and a reminder that we can and must demand more of our politicians, policy makers, and each other.

About Pink Triangle Committee

CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee works to create safer, fairer workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, intersex and queer-identified union members.

Through political action and key events, we advocate for harassment-free workplaces and communities.

Pink Triangle Committee members are volunteers elected for a two-year term at the biennial CUPE Ontario Human Rights Conference and represent all sectors and regions within CUPE Ontario.