BURNABY—As this year’s provincial election campaign revealed, there are still people in this province whose bigoted views of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and the transgendered (LGBT) belong in the Dark Ages.
Maple Ridge-Mission BC Liberal candidate Marc Dalton should have been severely reprimanded, if not replaced, by Premier Gordon Campbell for his failure to apologize or distance himself from extremely homophobic remarks made in an e-mail in which he equated homosexuality with “gambling, abortion, adultery, [and] pornography”.
When the media broke the story last month, Dalton would only say that he regretted “any misunderstanding” of his clearly explicit comments. Had his words been racist, sexist, or anti-Semitic, Dalton would not have remained the Liberal candidate—regardless of where he was running. But the premier accepted his response, he stayed in the race, and at last count was leading NDP candidate Mike Bocking by less than 200 votes. Instead of being marginalized for his bigotry, as he should have been, Dalton is likely to be confirmed as the new MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission.
CUPE BC condemns homophobia in all its forms. The union’s Committee Against Racism and Discrimination has hosted a Pink Triangle Conference for CUPE members, as well as working with CUPE National’s Pink Triangle committee on issues of concern in the workplace and the union for GLBT members.
CARD member Peter DeGroot of CUPE 391 (Vancouver and Gibsons Public Library) included a B.C. update in his April report to the Pink Triangle Committee:
- In Education, effective stewarding courses now include LGBT content in the course structure, including issues around same-sex benefits.
- At CUPE BC’s convention last month, an Equity Forum was held for all equity seeking members in B.C. The forum was an opportunity for the CARD committee to meet with other activists and share what is occurring for Aboriginal/First Nations workers, workers of colour, workers with disabilities and LGBT workers.
- Pride Activities: the Vancouver Pride Society’s 2009 season launched the society’s three-year theme: educate, liberate and celebrate. CUPE BC will again participate in appropriate events including the annual parade held on August 2 this year.
- Provincial politics: both of the BC New Democratic Party candidates who won bi-elections before the general vote this week are from the LGBT community: Spencer Herbert (who was re-elected on May 12 in Vancouver West End) and Jenn McGinn (who, despite running an excellent campaign in Vancouver-Fairview, lost to BC Liberal Margaret MacDiarmid on May 12).
- Gaybashing: Even in cosmopolitan Vancouver, homophobia continues to rear its ugly head in city streets where, once again, high-profile assaults in the West End made the news over the past six months. Perhaps the most disturbing occurred inside a well-known gay establishment, The Fountainhead Pub, where a patron was suckered-punched in the head, called “a fag”, and left in a coma. Thousands took to the street to rally under the banner of “Enough”.
- Arts & Culture: Last fall, a local production of the play “The Laramie Project”, about the brutal homophobic killing of Matthew Shepard in 1998, brought great reviews—along with the ‘threat’ of American evangelist Fred Phelps coming to picket the show. On a rainy autumn night, hundreds of activists gathered in Vancouver’s Grandview Park to demonstrate that Phelps and his followers are not welcome in B.C. And the release of the film “Milk” sparked renewed interest in the famed San Francisco politician, Harvey Milk.
Upcoming events include End Homophobia Day on Sunday, May 17, the Workers Out Conference, held in conjunction with the World Outgames in Cophenhagen, starting July 25, and various Pride parades throughout B.C.