WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, June 27

 

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • At City Hall this week, the Community Development and Recreation committee unanimously recommended that council implement mandatory anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia training in Toronto youth shelters. Council will vote on the issue July 8 or 9.
  • After a leading men’s rights group recently received charity status from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), NOW Magazine revealed that the group managed to name-drop a number women’s and queer rights organizations on their application to the CRA, without the knowledge of these organizations.
  • As pollsters continue to mull over the outcome of the provincial election, Global News provides statistical insight into the “Toronto-centric constituency that propelled Wynne to the majority”.
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is inviting input regarding its policy on “Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code”. The policy is currently being reviewed in light of reports made earlier this year that several Ottawa doctors refused to provide birth control prescriptions to patients because of the doctors’ moral and religious beliefs.

 

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WiTOpoli Weekly: Friday, June 20

 

A roundup of some of the latest news in women, Toronto, and/or politics this week. What stories did you read this week? Tell us in the comments.

  • After initially being denied visitor visas to attend the WorldPride Human Rights Conference at U of T, 6 of the 10 Ugandan activists invited to the conference were granted visas this week. This case provides insight into the bureaucratic barriers faced by LGBTQ immigrants who move to Toronto permanently, as demonstrated by the personal stories featured in this week’s The Grid
  • Echoing the same sentiment expressed at rallies across Canada, sex workers gathered in downtown Toronto to protest the Harper government’s proposed sex work legislation, Bill C-36
  •  …And one key author of that legislation, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, stunned some local Toronto lawyers at a meeting by claiming that lack of women and visible minorities on federal courts is because they’re just not applying
  • After Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti referred to Parkdale as a “pedophile district”, Councillor Gord Perks encouraged his constituents to use the hashtag #ParkdaleLove to counter that claim, and the Hogtown Twitter universe responded in droves
  • Chief Toronto City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat calls for a national transit and housing strategy that would enable our cities to welcome new immigrants

Ask Your Candidate: LGBTQ Community

By: Lauryn Kronick

It’s hard to miss the rainbows that have recently taken over many parts of Toronto. With World Pride coming to Toronto at the end of June, this is a good time to engage your candidates in conversation about what they think the issues facing the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, transgender and queer) communities are and how they can keep supporting them once Pride is over. Pride is a time of year when more attention is paid to human rights issues that affect the queer and trans communities, often at a national and global level. But these diverse communities face ongoing pressing issues that demand more support from city councillors who can be the ones to help drive change.

Jarek Piórkowski, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

How does your ward candidate support and participate in Pride?

Over the past few years, Pride Toronto has made headlines on a number of occasions: when Rob Ford ditched the festivities and headed to his cottage, when the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid was up for debate and when TDSB Trustee Sam Sotiropoulos announced that he wanted nude people at Pride arrested. But, for an incumbent city councillor or a municipal candidate, Pride is an important time to get out and meet members of the city’s diverse LGBTQ community and show their support in many ways, one of them by participating in the Trans* March, the Dyke March and/or the Pride Parade. Support from the City is essential for Pride Toronto to offer its full ranges of programmes. (Pride Toronto currently receives city funding as a Major Cultural Organization). Ask your ward candidate if they have ever marched in one of the Pride marches or in the Pride Parade. If not, would they consider doing so? You can gauge support by suggesting your ward candidate hold a Pride celebration in their ward and seeing if this is something of interest to them.

LGBTQ homeless youth and seniors are two communities who remain under-serviced in the city. What are your plans to further advance work being done with these communities?

When LGBTQ youth who access shelters in Toronto continue to experience discrimination because of their sexual and/or gender expression, identity and orientation, it is evident that there is need for a safe(r) space. Last December, Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam brought forward a motion to develop a working group to discuss the opportunity for a queer and trans youth shelter, which was adopted by City Council’s Community Development and Recreation Committee. The goal for this shelter is to be created and operating within a 12-month time period. When this working group moves forward with its plans and recommendations, the more support from City Council, the better chance this shelter has in its development.

Toronto’s aging LGBTQ population does have care and housing resources available to them, but there have been reports of trans* seniors experiencing abuse in their residences. This absolutely needs to be addressed; if queer and trans seniors are facing abusive situations in their homes, ask your ward candidate how they plan on addressing this and if they would allocate resources to train senior centre workers on how to better educate their residents on building a more inclusive environment.

Toronto is a self-declared “sanctuary city” for undocumented migrants, whose numbers include LGBTQ members who have arrived in Canada to seek asylum or fled dangerous situations in their home countries. How will your ward candidate ensure that LGBTQ newcomers are included in the process of gaining access to city resources and obtaining documentation?

The city has recently made headway in moving forward with its “sanctuary city” status, which gives basic rights to people without full immigration status. Toronto is a major hub for new immigrants with approximately 78,000 settling in the GTA each year, many of whom identify as queer and trans individuals. These individuals may have left their homes because of homophobic and transphobic laws that endanger their lives. While there are programs for LGBTQ newcomers offered through the city, dealing with the trauma of having left everything behind due to discrimination based on one’s gender and sexuality, coupled with the newness of a city, makes a challenge all the more overwhelming. There may be fear of continued discrimination within a new community and unfamiliarity to access resources and programs on top of the other challenges and struggles that new immigrants face, especially those without documents and status. With the sanctuary city motion moving forward, it’s important to remember that LGBTQ newcomers are a vulnerable population within an already vulnerable community.