For decades, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, or queer, as well as their allies, have fought for equal rights and societal acceptance. However, homophobia and transphobia persist in Canada and around the world, contributing to harassment, discrimination, significantly increased suicide rates (especially among youth), violence, and in some cases, government persecution. There is still a great deal of work left to do, at every level of society in nearly every country around the world, to create safer, more inclusive societies that promote equality, reduce harassment and discrimination, and celebrate LGTBQ+ identities.
How does this persistent discrimination look in Canada? A few years ago, a survey of approximately 1,900 individuals who identify as LGBT showed that just over half of them hadn’t come out to work colleagues, and 45% hadn’t come out to classmates, mainly because of fear of being mocked, rejected, bullied, or hindered from progressing in their careers. Even healthcare can be a problem for LGBTQ+ communities, where some LGBTQ+ people can’t easily access safe, private, non-discriminatory medical services, mental-health counseling, and basic healthcare resources needed for health and wellbeing. In addition, isolation can be a huge barrier facing LGBTQ+ youth and seniors, especially in communities where these individuals face harassment and sometimes homelessness because of homophobia, transphobia, and family turmoil. About 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGTBQ+.
Globally, LGTBQ+ people are still being imprisoned, discriminated against in healthcare, or face police or other violence. For example, Human Rights Watch reports that transgender people in Japan face forced sterilization to qualify for gender-affirming legal documents, and in Poland, towns have been declared “LGTB-free zone”. More than 70 countries criminalize LGBTQ+ people and/or consensual same-sex activity, including 11 countries where the death penalty is a possibility for those found guilty. These are only a few of the painful ways LGTBQ+ people continue to be harmed.
How charities are creating space for joy, community, and LGBTQ+ pride across Canada
Charities are focused on addressing the ongoing challenges faced by LGTBQ+ people in Canada, and around the world, and the need to continue to advocate for safety, inclusion, and social progress. Many charities are also creating space for joy, community, and LGTBQ+ pride – from choirs to youth camps, from arts organizations featuring LGTBQ+ artists to community centres.
- Fighting to save the lives of LGTBQ+ people around the world, charities help people internationally escape government persecution and find safety in new countries, including in Canada.
- Charities run summer camps for LGTBQ+ children or children from LGTBQ+ families, where they can feel accepted and celebrated.
- To counteract isolation and to support mental health of LGTBQ+ people, charities operate helplines and drop-in spaces offering meals, activities, support groups, counselling, referral services, and community.
- LGTBQ+-focused legal clinics fight for the basic rights many of us take for granted, such as housing, employment, medical care, and more.
- Queer arts organizations help us see and hear from, and celebrate with, our LGTBQ+ friends, neighbours, family, and allies.
- Many other charities dive into LGBTQ+ advocacy, education, and other work aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination and increasing awareness in society at large.
You can support efforts to make Canada a more inclusive country
The work of all these organizations is making Canada a more inclusive, safer, and prouder country, which is why CanadaHelps has recently launched the LGTBQ+ Pride Fund. In a single transaction, Canadians can give to more than 60 charities working towards a shared cause, and the donations to the Fund will be pooled and split evenly amongst all the organizations.