LGBTQ2 History | The Canadian Encyclopedia
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LGBTQ2 History

To understand the history of LGBTQ2 people in Canada is to understand the process by which an oppressed and persecuted minority group can overcome prejudice and discrimination to achieve legal equality and recognition of their inherent human rights. After being criminalized and stigmatized for centuries, the LGBTQ2 communities in Canada have used sustained political, legal and grassroots activism to gradually but steadily gain rights. (See also Rights Revolution in Canada.) While discrimination against LGBTQ2 people persists in many places, major strides toward mainstream social acceptance and formal legal equality have been made in recent decades, from same-sex marriage and health care to spousal benefits and the right to adopt.

  1. March 30, 1534

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Buggery Act 1533 Receives Royal Assent in England

    During the reign of Henry VIII, the Parliament of England passed a law making buggery (another word for sodomy, or anal sex) a crime punishable by death. It remained a capital offense in England until 1861 and in Canada until 1869. The first person to be executed under the Act was Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford, in July 1540.

  2. September 13, 1648

    A demonstration advocating for gay and lesbian rights in Toronto, ca. 1980's.

    Notable Events 

    First Sodomy Case in Canada Is Reported

    The earliest recorded case of a sodomy charge in what became Canada was in 1648 in Ville-Marie, now part of Montreal. A military drummer (name unknown) with the French garrison was charged with “crimes of the worst kind” — a common euphemism for homosexual acts. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted after he agreed to take the job of executioner. There is no record of a second man charged, so it has been theorized that he was Indigenous and was therefore not subject to French law.

  3. November 12, 1691

    LGBTQ Allies at the Pride March in Toronto, 2010.

    Notable Events 

    Sentences Given in Second Sodomy Case in Canada

    Nicolas Daussy de Saint-Michel, a military officer, and commoners Jean Forgeron dit La Rose and Jean Filliau dit Dubois were arrested on sodomy charges. Saint-Michel was fined 200 livres and deported to France, while Dubois and La Rose were sentenced to additional time in the military.

  4. June 11, 1806

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Notable Events 

    Man Found Guilty in First 19th-Century Case of “Buggery”

    The earliest known 19th-century case of a man charged with buggery (sodomy) involved John Middleton Smith, an ordained Anglican minister. He stood accused of both buggery and attempted buggery in Saint John, New Brunswick. For each offense, Smith was sentenced to one half-hour in the pillory in a market square on two separate days, three months in jail and a fine of five pounds sterling.

  5. June 10, 1838

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Activists and Politicians 

    George Herchmer Markland Resigns following Scandal

    George Herchmer Markland, a member of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, was forced to resign after he was accused of having sex with several young men, including several soldiers whom he allegedly paid for sex. Markland never held public office again.

  6. July 15, 1842

    Kingston Penitentiary, c 1920

    Notable Events 

    Two Men Sentenced to Hang in Sodomy Conviction in Military

    Lance Corporal Samuel Moore and Private Patrick Kelly, both with the 89th Regiment of Foot, were convicted of sodomy. Another private provided sworn eyewitness testimony. Moore and Kelly were sentenced to hang, but the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. Both served about a decade in the Kingston Penitentiary.

  7. August 10, 1866

    Bill Owen

    Notable Events 

    Naval Discipline Act Outlaws Sodomy

    The Naval Discipline Act, first passed in Britain on 10 August 1866, was adopted by the Royal Canadian Navy and served as Canadian naval law until 1944. Section 45 stated: “If he shall be guilty of sodomy with man or beast he shall suffer penal servitude,” and “if he shall be guilty of indecent assaults he shall suffer penal servitude, or other such punishment as is hereinafter mentioned.”

  8. May 06, 1868

    Notable Events 

    The Term Homosexual Is Coined

    In a letter to German sexologist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Károly Mária Kertbeny, an Austrian-born Hungarian journalist and human rights campaigner, coined the term homosexualisten (“homosexuals”). It is derived from the Greek homos (“the same”) and the Latin root sexualis (“sexuality”). Kertbeny used the term in two pamphlets published anonymously in Leipzig, Germany, in 1869 that were critical of laws that criminalized same-sex activities. The word came into general usage in the 1880s and 1890s. (See also Homosexuality.)

  9. June 22, 1869

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Death Penalty Removed as Punishment for Sodomy

    The death penalty was removed as punishment for a sodomy conviction in Canada. Attempted buggery, assault with intent to commit buggery, and indecent assault on a male became classified as “Unnatural Offences” and were subject to life in prison.

  10. July 23, 1875

    Notable Events 

    First Sodomy Case Covered by Media

    One of the first sodomy trials covered in-depth by Canadian media was that of Francis Widdowes, a Franciscan monk. The warrant brought against him was on charges of sex with another adult male, James Rogers, in the crypt of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. Widdowes was sentenced to five months in Toronto Central Prison.

  11. November 24, 1881

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Birth of Florence Wyle

    Sculptor Florence Wyle, who was considered Canada's finest academic sculptor, was born at Trenton, Ill.

  12. October 14, 1887

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Birth of Frances Loring

    Sculptor Frances Loring, who was a founding member of the Sculptors' Society of Canada, was born at Wardner, Idaho.

  13. November 10, 1891

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    First Imprisonment under Gross Indecency Law

    Two labourers, John Pettigrew and William Gray, became the first men to be convicted and sent to jail under the new gross indecency law. On 10 November 1891, each man was sentenced to two years in prison and 25 lashes of the whip. Pettigrew and Gray were one of the few cases brought to trial for the first few decades after passage of the gross indecency law. At first, charges brought between consenting adults were rare and the law focused on cases of same-sex rape and pedophilia.

  14. May 22, 1895

    Notable Events 

    Warnings of “Oscarism” in Regina

    The first of a series of headlines appeared on the front page of the Weekly Herald in Calgary, North-West Territories, including “Oscarism at Regina.” This referred to “unnatural vices” involving “a prominent citizen and two boys” who were 17 and 26. At least seven regional newspapers carried the story. (“Oscarism” was in reference to the Oscar Wilde trials in Britain in 1895.) The case marked the first instance in the newly settled Prairie region in which same-sex sexual activity was reported in the local press. Frank Hoskins was found guilty but did not serve a prison term. Leading Regina citizens petitioned the judge for leniency, and Hoskins was asked to leave the Territories.

  15. July 04, 1896

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Birth of Roswell George Mills

    Roswell George Mills (1896–1966), a journalist and magazine publisher, was the first openly gay man in Canadian history whose life and sexual orientation is attested through biographical literature rather than court records of a sodomy trial. Born in Buffalo, New York, Mills moved to Montreal, Quebec, in childhood with his family. He worked as a journalist for the Montreal Star, mainly as a theatre and opera critic.

  16. December 29, 1898

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Birth of Elsa Gidlow

    Elsa Gidlow (1898–1986) was a British-born, Canadian American poet, freelance journalist and philosopher. She emigrated to Quebec as a child and later moved to the US. She is best known for writing On a Grey Thread (1923), possibly the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry published in North America.

  17. January 01, 1910

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Ontario Requires Psychiatric Evaluation for Men Charged with Homosexuality

    In 1910, Ontario courts began sending men charged with homosexuality for psychiatric examination. During mental examinations, doctors translated men’s sexual experiences with other men into cases of “insanity.” These events reflected a turn in the early 1900s where homosexuality began to be associated with a mental disorder.

  18. January 01, 1913

    Frances Loring and sculptor Florence Wyle

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Frances Loring and Florence Wyle Move to Toronto

    In 1913, Frances Loring (1887–1968) and Florence Wyle (1881–1968), both born in the US, set up a studio in Toronto at Church and Lombard Streets. Among Canada’s most distinguished sculptors — and most notable early lesbian couple — their home at 110 Glenrose Avenue (known as “the church”) became a meeting place for artists for nearly 50 years. It was largely through their efforts that the Sculptors Society of Canada was formed. Loring and Wyle also played a key role in popularizing fine art through their work and public lectures.

  19. August 29, 1917

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Bawdy House Legislation Passed

    Bawdy house legislation, originally designed to deal with female prostitution, was broadened to include places habitually resorted to for “acts of indecency” in an attempt to deal with massage parlours. Under the Criminal Code, gay sexual activity could be construed as acts of indecency. In the 1970s, police began to use bawdy house legislation to clamp down on gay bars and bathhouses. (See also Toronto Bathhouse Raids.)

  20. May 01, 1920

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    First Gay Magazine in North American Ends Publication

    The last of five issues of an underground magazine called Les Mouches Fantastiques was published in Montreal in May 1920. Writers Elsa Gidlow and Roswell George Mills published five issues between 1918 and 1920 before moving to New York City.

  21. October 15, 1920

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Sodomy Included as an Offence in the Criminal Code

    The offense of sodomy was included in An Act to amend the Criminal Code. It received Royal Assent on 1 July 1920 and came into force on 15 October. It stated that “Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to ten years’ imprisonment, and to be whipped, who assaults any person with intent to commit sodomy or who, being a male, indecently assaults any other male person.”  

  22. January 01, 1922

    Edith Watson

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Victoria Hayward and Edith Watson Publish "Romantic Canada"

    Hayward and Watson, partners in business and life, published their book Romantic Canada. The book uses photographs and text to depict rural life in Canada, highlighting people that were not usually shown at the time. 

  23. June 25, 1942

    Michel Tremblay, writer

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Birth of Michel Tremblay

    Michel Tremblay, whose first widely produced play, Les Belles-soeurs, opened the floodgates of theatre in Canada, was born at Montréal.

  24. November 27, 1943

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Birth of Nicole Brossard

    Publisher Nicole Brossard, who is a leading exponent of formalist poetry in Québec and a major theoretician and promoter of literary and cultural feminism, was born in Montreal.

  25. February 05, 1946

    Igor Gouzenko

    Notable Events 

    Kellock–Taschereau Commission Appointed to Investigate Gouzenko Affair

    The defection of Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet cipher clerk who worked in Ottawa, in September 1945 revealed that Canada had been infiltrated by Soviet agents. The subsequent Royal Commission found that some public servants had passed state secrets to Soviet agents. In response, an internal security system was established to identify civil servants with “character weaknesses” that would make them susceptible to blackmail. Homosexuals were seen as targets for espionage by foreign agents. A Security Panel then developed a policy of transferring civil servants suspected of homosexuality to less sensitive posts. The RCMP was given the predominant role in the vetting process.

  26. November 01, 1948

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    “Criminal Sexual Psychopaths” Added to the Criminal Code

    A section on “criminal sexual psychopaths” was added to the Criminal Code. The Amendment received Royal Assent on 30 June and came into force on 1 November. A criminal sexual psychopath was defined as a person “who by a course of misconduct in sexual matters has evidenced a lack of power to control his sexual impulses and who as a result is likely to attack or otherwise inflict injury, loss, pain or other evil on any person.” People who were deemed to be criminal sexual psychopaths could be sentenced for an “indefinite period.”

  27. May 16, 1950

    Jack Nesbit and Jim Egan

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Jim Egan Is First Published in the Globe and Mail

    Jim Egan, who had begun a letter-writing campaign in 1949, is published for the first time in the Globe and Mail. Egan later said, “I simply let them know that there was at least one person out there who was not going to sit by and let them get away with what I considered to be gross inaccuracies and libels. At the time I had no knowledge of anyone else writing these sorts of letters or articles in Canada.” Egan’s writings also appeared in other publications under the pseudonym Leo Engle to shield Egan and his partner, Jack Nesbit, from prosecution.

  28. November 19, 1951

    Jim Egan

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Jim Egan’s “Aspects of Homosexuality” Begins Publication

    Jim Egan contributed the first known series of articles written by and about homosexuals in Canada from a gay point of view. After he wrote a letter to True News Times (a tabloid) suggesting that they should have a series on homosexuality, they agreed to publish his series, called “Aspects of Homosexuality.” The series ran for seven weeks through to 31 December 1951. From May 1951, the tabloid Justice Weekly also published several of Egan’s articles under the initials J.L.E.

  29. January 01, 1952

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    Notable Events 

    First Gay Person Fired from Public Service

    One of the earliest firings of a gay man from federal employment due to his sexuality occurred in 1952. The individual worked in a middle-management position at Canada’s most secret institution, the Communications Branch, which intercepted radio signals mainly from the northern regions of the Soviet Union. The individual’s loyalty or honesty was never in doubt, but authorities feared that the Americans would find out about his sexuality, jeopardizing the arrangements for sharing intelligence.

  30. February 10, 1952

    Portrait of Rupert Raj, c. 1988.

    Activists and Politicians 

    Trans Rights Activist Rupert Raj Is Born in Ottawa

    Rupert Raj was a counsellor/psychotherapist, clinical researcher, educator, lecturer, writer, editor, activist and gender specialist who began advocating for transgender people in 1971, the year before his own transition. During the 1970s and 1980s, Raj established and operated three transgender organizations: Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (FACT), Metamorphosis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF) and GenderWorker. He also edited and published three periodicals: Gender Review, Metamorphosis Newsletter/Metamorphosis Magazine, and GenderNetworker.

  31. July 04, 1952

    Canadian Border

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Immigration Act Prohibiting Homosexuals from Entering Canada Receives Royal Assent

    A government committee overseeing revision of the Immigration Act added “homosexuals, lesbians, and persons coming to Canada for any immoral purpose” to the list of prohibited classes. As described in section 5(e) of the Immigration Act, homosexuals, along with pimps, prostitutes and drug addicts, were “undesirable” and therefore forbidden to enter Canada. This was the first explicit reference to homosexuals being denied entry into the country. (See also Immigration Policy in Canada.)

  32. January 01, 1953

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    “Buggery” and “Gross Indecency” Trigger Criminal-Sexual-Psychopath Law

    In 1953, “buggery” and “gross indecency” were added to the list of offences that could trigger criminal-sexual-psychopath legislation. All homosexual-related offences then became triggering offences. However, public and political concerns that the criminal-sexual-psychopath legislation was not resulting in convictions of homosexuals led to the appointment of the Royal Commission on the Criminal Law Relating to Criminal Sexual Psychopaths in 1954 (known as the McRuer Commission) to study the criminal-sexual-psychopath sentencing procedure.

  33. March 10, 1955

    A demonstration advocating for gay and lesbian rights in Toronto, ca. 1980's.

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    First Lesbian Criminal Trial in Canada Begins

    Willimae Moore was charged with indecently assaulting a woman with whom she worked in the typing pool of a government office in Yellowknife. The sexual overture was an attempted kiss. Willimae Moore’s prosecution is believed to be the first lesbian criminal trial in Canada. The case resulted in a conviction at trial. 

  34. March 21, 1958

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    McRuer Commission Releases Its Report

    The McRuer Commission recommended extending criminal charges to homosexual activities. Although the Commission acknowledged that opinions differed considerably on the issue of homosexuality and the extent to which criminal-sexual-psychopath legislation law should apply to them, it nevertheless associated homosexuality with “aggressive rapists, sadists, sex slayers, and attackers of young children.” The commission’s most significant recommendation, one that would increase the threat of a lifetime in jail for homosexuals, was that the law be amended to change the term “criminal sexual psychopath” to the new category of “dangerous sexual offender.”

  35. May 12, 1959

    Notable Events 

    Canadian Security Panel Memo Targets Homosexuals

    A memo that was circulated among members of the Canadian Security Panel stated: “sexual abnormalities appear to be the favourite target of hostile intelligence agencies, and of these homosexuality is most often used.… The nature of homosexuality appears to adapt itself to this kind of exploitation... certain characteristics [of homosexuality] appear to stand out — instability, willing self-deceit, defiance towards society…  none of which inspire the confidence one would hope to have in persons required to fill positions of trust and responsibility.” Also in 1959, the RCMP began screening for homosexuals in federal service. In the early 1960s, the campaign was extended into areas that had little to do with national security, including the Post Office, Central Mortgage and Housing, Health and Welfare, Public Works, Unemployment Insurance, and the NFB and CBC. By 1967–68, there were roughly 9,000 files on suspected homosexuals. (See also Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from Public Service.)

  36. October 16, 1959

    canadian-broadcasting-corporation

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    CBC-TV Show Consensus Airs Program on Homosexuality

    The CBC-TV program Consensus aired an episode on homosexuality. In street interviews, people expressed negative and homophobic attitudes that were common for the day. However, interviews with a psychiatrist and former member of the British bar demonstrated that, at least in some circles, attitudes were changing. When the host asked if in his medical opinion a homosexual is a sick individual, psychiatrist Dr. R.J. Richmond responded: “He is sick in this way; that he is sick because his life is an intolerable situation in our present society.” When the host asked if Canadian laws “work a hardship on the homosexual? Are they unfair?” H.A.D. Oliver, the British member of the bar answered that they are unfair; that they “work a hardship” and that “society is protected against a non-existent evil.”

  37. July 13, 1961

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    New Category of “Dangerous Sexual Offender” Created

    In response to the McRuer Commission’s 1958 recommendation, federal legislation was passed that established the new category of “dangerous sexual offender” to replace “criminal sexual psychopath.” The legislation included a clause that defined an individual falling under this category as one who “is likely to commit a further sexual offence.”

  38. January 01, 1962

    RCMP

    Notable Events 

    Publication of Report that Led to the “Fruit Machine”

    The Canadian government funded research by Carleton University psychology professor Frank Robert Wake into ways of “scientifically” detecting homosexuals — research that culminated in what came to be known as the “fruit machine.” (Fruit was a commonly used pejorative for gay.) Test subjects peered through an opening in a box and were shown pictures while a camera photographed pupil dilation and eye movement at half-second intervals. The goal was to differentiate between homosexual and heterosexual subjects based on their reactions to nude imagery. The final reference to the study in 1966–67 noted that conclusive means to identify homosexuals were out of reach. The “fruit machine” was abandoned in 1967. (See also Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from Public Service.)

  39. April 01, 1963

    Collage of images of Jackie Shane

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Jackie Shane’s “Any Other Way” Hits No. 2 on Toronto Chart

    Pioneering transgender performer Jackie Shane, a prominent figure in Toronto’s R&B scene in the 1960s, reached No. 2 on the CHUM singles chart with her cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way.”

  40. August 10, 1963

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Claude Jutra’s À tout prendre Is Released

    À tout prendre, directed by Claude Jutra, is released, becoming the first Canadian film dealing with gay subjects. In 2016, Quebec society was shocked by revelations that Jutra had been a pedophile.

  41. February 01, 1964

    Jane Rule,  April 1991

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Jane Rule’s Desert of the Heart Published

    Jane Rule was a writer and anti-censorship activist and a fierce advocate for queer rights. Her novel Desert of the Heart was published after 22 rejections from publishers. Presenting an affirmative portrait of a same-sex relationship, the novel features two women who fall in love with each other. Over her 76 years, Rule published seven novels and contributed short stories and essays to both queer and mainstream publications. She was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 1998 and the Order of Canada in 2006.

  42. February 22, 1964

    Maclean's cover, Dec. 6th, 1960.

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Maclean’s Publishes “The Homosexual Next Door”

    Maclean’s magazine published what are believed to be the first full-scale articles in a mainstream Canadian publication to take a generally positive view of homosexuality. The articles, published on 22 February and 7 March 1964, were written by associate editor Sidney Katz, with input from Jim Egan. “The Homosexual Next Door” states: “The homosexual is rarely the weird sex monster so often depicted in psychiatric case histories, police records and lurid fiction. A surprisingly high proportion of homosexuals are indistinguishable from heterosexuals.” The articles did not attract widespread condemnation and in fact the magazine later published three supportive letters.

  43. March 01, 1964

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Canada's First Gay Periodical Is Published

    Miss Muffett, a gay introduction service based in Toronto, began publishing GAY, a bimonthly tabloid. GAY was Canada's first gay periodical and one of the first homosexual periodicals anywhere to use the word gay in its title. Their name was openly displayed on the outside of their offices at 980 Queen Street East. Within four months of its first appearance, GAY had secured newsstand distribution in Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, New York and Chicago. The publication was later renamed Gay International and incorporated under the name Gay Publishing Company.

  44. March 01, 1965

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    The Forms of Loss Is Published

    The Forms of Loss, a book of poetry by Edward A. Lacey, is thought to be the first book published in English Canada expressing overt gay sexuality. The book was sponsored by Dennis Lee and Margaret Atwood, who both financially supported its publication.

  45. September 27, 1965

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Winter Kept Us Warm Premieres

    Winter Kept Us Warm, widely considered English Canada’s first queer film, premiered to critical acclaim at the Commonwealth Film Festival in Cardiff, Wales. It was directed by 22-year-old English major David Secter and filmed at the University of Toronto. In 1966, it became the first English Canadian fiction feature film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival. It has been cited as an early influence by director David Cronenberg, who was a University of Toronto student at the time.

  46. March 09, 1966

    Everett Klippert

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Everett Klippert Is Declared a Dangerous Sexual Offender

    In August 1965, Everett Klippert, a 39-year-old mechanic in Pine Point, Northwest Territories, was questioned by the RCMP during an arson investigation. Klippert, who had not been involved in the fire but had been previously convicted of gross indecency, made a voluntary statement that he had engaged in sexual acts with males on four occasions. On 24 August 1965, Klippert was sentenced to three years on each of the four counts, to be served concurrently. On 9 March 1966, he was declared a dangerous sexual offender. Outrage over that sentence, upheld by the Supreme Court in 1967, led to the decriminalization of homosexual acts in 1969.

  47. February 23, 1967

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Fortune and Men’s Eyes Premieres Off-Broadway

    John Herbert’s play Fortune and Men’s Eyes, about a young man’s experience in prison, premiered at the Actors Playhouse in New York City. It served as a landmark in the history of homosexual themes in literature and theatre and was followed by an acclaimed film adaptation in 1971. (See also Queer Culture; Queer Theatre in Toronto.)

  48. November 07, 1967

    Everett Klippert

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Klippert Appeal Dismissed by Supreme Court

    In a 3–2 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal of Everett Klippert. Chief Justice John R. Cartwright, who had recommended quashing Klippert's preventive detention sentence, said in a dissenting opinion that the laws regarding homosexuality should be clarified, and that it was not the Court’s intention to incarcerate harmless gay people. Intense media and political interest followed the dismissal of Klippert's appeal. It led Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau to amend the Criminal Code.

  49. December 21, 1967

    Pierre Trudeau

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”

    Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced an omnibus bill, Bill C-150, in the House of Commons. The Bill was a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code, one part of which would decriminalize homosexual acts (gross indecency and buggery) in private between two consenting adults 21 years of age and older. In explaining the government’s rationale for this change in the law, Trudeau stated, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

  50. August 28, 1968

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Premiere of Les Belles-Sœurs

    The Théâtre du Rideau Vert premiered Michel Tremblay's Les Belles-Sœurs, becoming the first play to use Québec joual instead of Parisian French.

  51. May 14, 1969

    House of Commons

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Homosexuality Is Decriminalized in Canada

    Bill C-150 was passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 149–55, thereby decriminalizing homosexuality in Canada. The law decriminalized gross indecency, buggery and sodomy. The law received Royal Assent on 27 June and came into force on 26 August 1969.

  52. June 28, 1969

    Notable Events 

    Stonewall Riots in New York City

    The day after Bill C-150 received Royal Assent, hundreds of gay people and drag queens fought back after a routine police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street in New York City. Four policemen were injured; 13 people were arrested. This protest marked the symbolic beginning of the modern gay liberation movement.

  53. August 01, 1969

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Artistic Collective General Idea Is Formed

    In 1969, Ron Gabe, Slobodan Saia-Levi and Michael Tims formed the artistic collective General Idea. They adopted new names — Felix Partz (Gabe), Jorge Zontal (Saia-Levi) and AA Bronson (Tims) — and proceeded to introduce a satirical and humorous gay sensibility to the Toronto art world. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, General Idea garnered an international following with work exhibited around the world. During the late 1980s, the group’s art focused more on the AIDS crisis. Their AIDS logo spoofing the famous LOVE sign created by Robert Indiana became internationally famous. General Idea disbanded in 1994, the same year in which both Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal died of AIDS. General Idea is credited with having had a key influence on other gay artists.

  54. October 24, 1969

    University of Toronto

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    University of Toronto Homophile Association Holds First Meeting

    The University of Toronto Homophile Association (UTHA), the first post-Stonewall LGBTQ2 organization in Canada and the first formed at a Canadian university, held its first formal meeting.

  55. January 01, 1970

    University of Toronto

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Catalyst Press, Canada’s First Gay Literary Publishing House, Is Founded

    Ian Young, a poet and co-founder of the University of Toronto Homophile Association, started Catalyst Press, the first gay literary publishing house in Canada. It published gay literary titles for 10 years. Young was quoted in 1977 in Weekend Magazine saying: “In Canada in the 1960s homosexuals were talked about but not with.”

  56. December 01, 1970

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Opening of Glad Day Bookshop, Canada’s First LGBTQ2 Bookstore

    Jearld Moldenhauer founded Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, selling a rapidly growing range of lesbian- and gay-positive books and magazines. Glad Day Bookshop was Canada's first bookstore targeted to the LGBTQ2 community. As of 2024, it was the oldest surviving LGBTQ2 bookstore in North America.

  57. January 01, 1971

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE) is Founded

    Formed by Maurice Flood in Vancouver, GATE is one of the first Canadian Gay liberation groups.

  58. February 12, 1971

    York University Student Centre

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Forum on Homosexuality Held at a Canadian University

    The first large-scale forum on homosexuality held at a Canadian university took place at York University, 12–13 February 1971. It was sponsored by the York University Homophile Association (YUHA) and Radio York. About 250 people attended the event.

  59. March 26, 1971

    The Université de Montréal, as seen from St. Joseph's Oratory, 1969

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Francophone LGBTQ Organization Meets in Quebec

    The first of a series of meetings were held in Montreal that led to the formation of the first francophone LGBTQ2 organization in Quebec, the Front de libération homosexuelle (FLH).

  60. June 01, 1971

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Federal Grant Received by an LGBTQ Organization in Canada

    The Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT) received a grant, administered through the Canadian Mental Health Association, to help educate the public about homosexuality. The grant was used to run a telephone counselling service and to work on education programs with church and social groups for a 13-week period until September 1971. This is believed to be the first time in Canada that a LGBTQ2 organization received financial assistance from the federal government.

  61. July 20, 1971

    Everett Klippert

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Everett Klippert Is Released from Prison

    Everett Klippert was paroled from indefinite detention. After his release, Klippert moved to Edmonton and worked as a truck driver. In the mid-1980s, as he reached retirement, he married. He refused any requests from activists in the growing gay-rights movement to march in Pride parades or otherwise become a public figure representing discrimination against LGBTQ2 persons. He died of kidney disease in 1996. (See also The Life and Meaning of Everett Klippert.)

  62. August 01, 1971

    Notable Events 

    Canada’s First Pride Event Is Held in Toronto

    Toronto's first “Gay Day Picnic” was held at Hanlan's Point on the Toronto Islands. The event was sponsored by the Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT) and Toronto Gay Action (TGA) and was attended by about 300 people. Flags and banners were displayed by the picnickers, including an old lace tablecloth bearing the words “Canada the True, North, and Gay.” The picnic is considered Canada’s first Pride event.

  63. August 20, 1971

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    Notable Events 

    First Public Demonstration by Lesbians and Gays in Toronto

    About 12 members of Toronto Gay Action (TGA), which was founded on 27 June 1971, participated in an On to Ottawa march to build support for the We Demand rally in Ottawa on 28 August. This was the first public demonstration by lesbians and gays in Toronto.

  64. August 28, 1971

    Notable Events 

    Canada’s First Gay Rights Protest, We Demand

    The first large-scale public LGBTQ2 demonstrations in Canada took place when lesbians and gay men and their supporters assembled on Parliament Hill in support of the brief “We Demand.” It had previously been presented to and rejected by the federal government. Accounts of the number of participants vary from 80 to 200. Many of the protesters came from university organizations. The crowd was addressed by Charles Hill of Toronto Gay Action (TGA), which organized the march, George Hislop and Pat Murphy of the Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT), and Pierre Masson of Front de libération homosexuelle (FLH). Gay Alliance Toward Equality (Vancouver) sponsored a solidarity demonstration at the Vancouver courthouse, which attracted a crowd of 150 to 200.

  65. September 08, 1971

    York University Student Centre

    Notable Events 

    First Gay Studies Course at a Canadian University

    York University Homophile Association (YUHA) organized a gay studies course that is thought to be the first gay studies course offered at a Canadian university.

  66. November 01, 1971

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    First Issue of the Body Politic Is Published

    The first issue (November/December) of the Body Politic went on sale. The publication became a mouthpiece for the Canadian gay liberation movement. It was launched with the express purpose of “Putting into words the ideas and concerns of the Canadian gay community.” Activist and original Glad Day Bookshop owner Jearld Moldenhauer proposed the founding of that Body Politic. The group that published it was incorporated as Pink Triangle Press in 1975.

  67. January 01, 1972

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    First Study of Homosexuality in Canada Is Published

    A Not So Gay World: Homosexuality in Canada, the first non-fiction book-length study of homosexuality in Canada, was published by McClelland & Stewart in 1972.

  68. January 01, 1972

    Gavel

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Homosexuality Used as Grounds for Divorce for First Time

    M. v. M. was the first case in Canada in which homosexuality was used as grounds for divorce. The husband sued the wife for a divorce on the basis of her alleged homosexual conduct. The decision by Justice Nicholson of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island ruled in the husband’s favour.

  69. February 01, 1972

    University of Manitoba

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Manitoba’s First Gay Rights Group Is Founded

    The first gay movement organization in Manitoba, Gays for Equality (GFE), was founded at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

  70. February 13, 1972

    Notable Events 

    First Gay Address to a Major Political Party in Canada

    Jearld Moldenhauer of the Body Politic addressed a session of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Waffle convention in Hamilton. This was the first time a gay liberation representative formally addressed a political party conference in Canada. Moldenhauer stated, in part, “The Canadian homosexual population… will no longer tolerate the denial of our basic civil liberties.”

  71. February 26, 1972

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Notable Events 

    First Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony in Canada

    Singer and journalist Michel Girouard and pianist Réjean Tremblay signed business partnership and personal union contracts in Canada's first widely publicized same-sex marriage ceremony, held in Montreal. The couple was married by the Rev. Boniface Grosveld of the Congregation of the Beloved Disciple, Old Catholic.

  72. June 28, 1972

    Edmonton in Winter

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Gay Liberation Group in Alberta Is Incorporated

    The first gay liberation organization in Alberta, Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE), was formed in Edmonton in 1970. It was officially incorporated in 1972 and opened its first office, GATE House, near the University of Alberta in 1973.

  73. July 24, 1972

    Activists and Politicians 

    Peter Maloney Becomes Canada's First Openly Gay Political Candidate

    Gay activist Peter Maloney became Canada's first openly gay political candidate when he ran for a seat on the Toronto Board of Education. His candidacy was in response to a petition that sought to prevent homosexual activists from addressing students in Toronto high schools. Maloney, who came out as gay in February 1972 at a Liberal Party policy conference, previously ran as an unsuccessful candidate in the 1971 Ontario provincial election.

  74. August 01, 1972

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    The National Gay Election Coalition (NGEC) Is Formed

    Sixteen groups in five provinces formed the National Gay Election Coalition (NGEC). Their goal was to intervene in the federal election on 30 October. The establishment of the NGEC marked a first step on the path to a pan-Canadian organization, representing a coming together over a civil rights agenda.

  75. August 19, 1972

    Notable Events 

    Toronto's First Annual Gay Pride Week Begins

    Toronto's first annual Gay Pride Week was organized by the Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT), Toronto Gay Action (TGA) and the Body Politic. (See Pride in Canada.) The event was held 19–27 August to celebrate the first anniversary of the march to publicize the “We Demand” brief, and the third anniversary of the changes to Canada's Criminal Code (Bill C-150).

  76. September 11, 1972

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Canada’s First TV Program by and for Gay People

    Coming Out, Canada's first regularly scheduled television program produced by and for gay people, premiered on Toronto’s Metro Cable Channel 10. The 13-episode series was produced by the Community Homophile Association of Toronto (CHAT).

  77. January 01, 1973

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives is Launched

    Pink Triangle Press founded the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in 1973, which today is a respected and historically important collection of LGBT material.

  78. June 30, 1973

    House of Industry, 2012

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Lesbian Conference in Canada

    The first lesbian conference in Canada took place at a YWCA in Toronto. Topics that were covered included lesbian-feminism and lesbian mothers. Proposals were put forth to attempt to form new lesbian groups and a bar/club in Toronto. About 50 women attended, some from as far away as Vancouver and Montreal.

  79. July 01, 1973

    Downtown Montreal

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Canada’s First Lesbian-Feminist Periodical Is Published

    English Canada’s first lesbian-feminist periodical, Long Time Coming, was launched by Montreal Gay Women. Long Time Coming contained news, poetry, opinion pieces, book reviews, advertisements and listings.

  80. August 17, 1973

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    Notable Events 

    Toronto’s Second Annual Gay Pride Week Begins

    Toronto held its second Gay Pride Week 17–26 August. Mayor David Crombie refused to proclaim it Gay Pride Week, but five other cities (Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, Saskatoon) joined Toronto with their own Pride celebrations that year.

  81. August 25, 1973

    A demonstration advocating for gay and lesbian rights in Toronto, ca. 1980's.

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Human Rights Commission Recommends Anti-Discrimination Legislation

    The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission recommended the expansion of anti-discrimination legislation and equal opportunity programs in Saskatchewan, including the outlawing of discrimination based on sexual orientation. This was the first time that a Human Rights Commission in Canada had called for the inclusion of sexual orientation in human rights legislation.

  82. September 20, 1973

    Rosemary Brown

    Activists and Politicians 

    Rosemary Brown Calls for BC’s Human Rights Act to Include Sexual Orientation

    Rosemary Brown, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Burrard, delivered a speech in the BC House that reaffirmed her support for the inclusion of a sexual orientation clause in the provincial Human Rights Act. Brown said that the existing Act had so many holes “you could drive a truck through it.” Brown had called for the Act to include sexual orientation in her first speech in the House a year earlier — the first time a call for gay rights was made in a Canadian legislature.

  83. October 01, 1973

    University of Manitoba

    Notable Events 

    Winnipeg's First Gay Pride Week Begins

    Gays for Equality (GFE) sponsored Winnipeg's first Gay Pride Week, held at the University of Manitoba on 1–6 October.

  84. October 06, 1973

    Québec Panorama

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Pan-Canadian Conference of Gay Organizations Begins

    The first pan-Canadian conference of gay organizations was hosted by Centre humanitaire d'aide et de libération (CHAL) in Quebec City on 6–7 October. More than 80 delegates from 20 groups attended.

  85. October 10, 1973

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Toronto Bans Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

    By a vote of 15–1, Toronto City Council passed a resolution banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in city employment. The vote came after a six-month lobbying effort by Gay Alliance Toward Equality (Toronto). This was the first time in Canada that any legislative body recognized gay people as a legitimate minority, with a right to equal opportunity in employment.

  86. January 05, 1974

    The Brunswick House

    Notable Events 

    The Brunswick Four Are Arrested

    The arrest of four lesbians (Adrienne Rosen, Pat Murphy, Sue Wells and Lamar Van Dyke) at the Brunswick Tavern in Toronto became a turning point in making Canada’s gay liberation movement more militant and politically motivated. The case of the Brunswick Four was also one of the first gay or lesbian cases to receive widespread media attention in Canada.

  87. March 12, 1974

    Saskatoon

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Canadian Human Rights Commission Investigates Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

    After the Western Producer, a weekly farm newspaper, refused to print a classified ad for the Zodiac Friendship Society/Saskatoon Gay Action, the society filed a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. The Commission ruled that the case did not represent a breach of the Human Rights Code because sexual orientation was not included in the Code. This is believed to be the first time that a Canadian Human Rights Commission actively investigated a complaint of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  88. May 01, 1974

    E. Cora Hind, journalist

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Cora Bookmobile Launches in Rural Ontario

    Cora, a women's bookmobile, began its travels around rural and smalltown Ontario. Cora was named after Ella Cora Hind (1861–1942), a Canadian pioneer suffragist, and was stocked with material on feminism and lesbianism. Cora’s goal was to help women in smaller centres overcome their isolation from the women's movement. The project was so popular that it was revived in the summer of 1975.

  89. May 18, 1974

    Saskatoon

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Conference of Prairie Gay Activists Begins

    Saskatoon Gay Action hosted the first conference of Prairie gay activists in Saskatoon on 18–19 May. It was attended by more than 20 delegates from organizations in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Saskatoon.

  90. July 08, 1974

    Canadian Parliament

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Federal Election Lobbied by a National Gay Coalition

    The 1974 federal election marked the culmination of more than a year's work by the National Gay Election Coalition (NGEC). It was a concerted effort by 20 gay organizations across Canada to make gay civil rights an issue in federal elections. For the first time, politicians were confronted by a highly organized gay rights lobby from nearly every part of the country.

  91. July 25, 1974

    Saskatoon

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    First Child Custody Case with a Gay Parent

    The first Canadian case, conducted in Saskatoon, in which homosexuality was an issue in child custody involved Darlene Case, a lesbian, who lost custody of her two children to her ex-husband. She had been granted custody in 1973; this decision was reversed after her ex-husband appealed the case on the basis of the mother's lesbianism.

  92. October 01, 1974

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Wages Due Lesbians Collective Is Formed

    The Wages Due Lesbians collective was formed in Toronto in October 1974 to integrate class analysis into lesbian-feminism. The group was interested in the rights of lesbian mothers and produced several position papers on lesbians and wages for housework. Wages Due Lesbians became involved in the International Wages for Housework movement, which linked various aspects of women's oppression to unpaid labour in the home.

  93. October 14, 1974

    Michel Tremblay, writer

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna Opens on Broadway

    Hosanna, a play about a drag queen, opened on Broadway at the Bijou Theatre. Written by Michel Tremblay, a gay French Canadian novelist and playwright, Hosanna was the first Canadian production of any play to reach Broadway since the 1950s.

  94. January 23, 1975

    Hôtel du Parlement (National Assembly)

    Notable Events 

    First Address by Gay Rights Advocates to a Provincial Legislature

    After representatives of three gay organizations presented briefs to the National Assembly's Justice Committee, House Leader Robert Burns announced his support for the inclusion of a sexual orientation clause in Quebec’s proposed Human Rights Charter. Jérôme Choquette, Quebec's Minister of Justice, conceded that gay people had faced discrimination and did not dismiss the possibility that sexual orientation would be included in the proposed Charter. This was the first time that representatives of the gay movement had appeared before a Canadian legislative body.

  95. February 04, 1975

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Bawdy-House Legislation Is First Used against a Gay Establishment

    A raid on Sauna Aquarius in Montreal led to charges against 35 men. This was the first time bawdy house legislation was used against a gay establishment. Raids and arrests in Montreal baths, bars and washrooms continued through the spring of 1975. For at least the next six years, police in various cities across the country steadily increased their harassment of the gay press and gay men in gay spaces, leading up to the 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto

  96. February 28, 1975

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    First Public Hearing of a Gay Civil Rights Case Begins

    The first public hearing in Canada of a gay civil rights case under provincial human rights legislation began in Vancouver. The case involved Gay Alliance Toward Equality (Vancouver)'s complaint against the Vancouver Sun that the paper's refusal to print a classified ad for Gay Tide contravened BC’s Human Rights Code. On 12 January 1976, the Board of Inquiry ruled that the Sun had violated the provincial Human Rights Code. It ordered the paper to pay Gay Alliance Toward Equality (Vancouver) $500 and “to refrain from committing the same or similar contraventions of the Code in future.” On 10 June 1977, the ruling was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal. The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada, making it the first lesbian and gay rights case ever at Canada’s highest court. On 22 May 1979, in a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, ruling that freedom of the press allowed the Vancouver Sun “reasonable cause” to refuse the ad. Despite a ruling in its favour, the paper eventually changed its ad policy and printed a classified ad for Gay Tide on 17 November 1979.

  97. June 01, 1975

    Calgary Skyline

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Gay Information and Resources Calgary (GIRC) Is Founded

    Gay Information and Resources Calgary (GIRC) was founded by gay artist and activist Windi Earthworm. It hosted the National Gay Rights Conference in 1980. The organization folded a few years later.

  98. July 01, 1975

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    First Truly National Gay and Lesbian Coalition Is Formed

    The National Gay Election Coalition (NGEC), formed in September 1972, was transformed into the National Gay Rights Coalition/Coalition nationale pour les droits des homosexuels (NGRC/CNDH), the first truly national coalition of Canadian lesbian and gay groups.

  99. July 07, 1975

    New Democratic Party Logo

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Federal NDP Form Gay Caucus

    A Gay Caucus was created at the national convention of the New Democratic Party (NDP). It was the first LGBTQ2 committee within a major political party in Canada.

  100. November 11, 1975

    National War Memorial

    Notable Events 

    First Gay Participation in Official Remembrance Day Ceremony

    For the first time, a gay group was allowed to formally participate in Canada’s official Remembrance Day ceremonies. Denis LeBlanc and Marie Robertson of Gays of Ottawa (GO) laid a wreath at the National War Memorial. The wreath was inscribed with a pink triangle to commemorate the thousands of homosexuals who had been interned in Nazi concentration camps, as well as the thousands of gay men and lesbians who had served in the Canadian Armed Forces during both world wars. 

  101. November 21, 1975

    Edmonton in Winter

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Lesbian Mother Wins Child Custody for First Time

    For the first time in Canada, an openly lesbian mother was awarded custody of her child. In the case of K. v. K., justice D.W. Rowe of the Alberta Provincial Court granted custody to the lesbian mother, reasoning that the child's chances of becoming a homosexual would not increase solely by being raised by a homosexual parent.

  102. February 25, 1976

    Canadian Parliament

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    NGRC Calls for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation in Human Rights Act

    The National Gay Rights Coalition (NGRC) started to lobby federal MPs to support the civil rights of gay people by including the term sexual orientation in the government’s proposed Canadian Human Rights Act. A 30-page brief in both official languages was distributed by the NGRC to all 264 Members of Parliament. The brief stated: “Gay people in this country are suffering discrimination today. They cannot wait for vague promises of possible relief in ten years or so. We demand the immediate inclusion of the term ‘sexual orientation’ in the Canadian Human Rights Act!” This was the first time that all sitting Members of Parliament were approached on a systematic, national basis by representatives of the gay movement.

  103. April 28, 1976

    Canadian Armed Forces

    Notable Events 

    Armed Forces Bar “Homosexual Members or Members with Sexual Abnormality”

    The section of the service policy (Canadian Forces Administrative Order 19-20) referencing “sexual deviates” was replaced with “homosexual members” to pre-empt any challenges from people who claim homosexuality does not fit the definition of a “sexual deviate.” To further strengthen their policy, the military added the term “sexual abnormality,” defined as “any form of sexual behaviour not conforming with accepted moral standards or constituting an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.” As a result, military regulations now stated: “Service policy does not allow homosexual members or members with sexual abnormality to be retained in the Canadian Forces.”

  104. May 20, 1976

    Downtown Montreal

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    CHAR/GCAR Is Formed to Protest Police Harassment

    The Comité homosexuel anti-répression/Gay Coalition against Repression (CHAR/GCAR) was formed to protest a perceived campaign of police harassment, raids on gay establishments (including bathhouses), and the arrest of gays as part of an attempt to “clean up” Montreal for the upcoming Olympic Summer Games. In October 1976, CHAR/GCAR developed into the Association pour les droits des gai(e)s du Québec (ADGQ), the first gay civil rights organization in Quebec.

  105. June 11, 1976

    New Democratic Party Logo

    Activists and Politicians 

    Ontario NDP Calls for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation in Ontario Human Rights Code

    At its biennial convention in Kingston, the Ontario NDP voted 234–189 to approve a revised resolution calling for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Windsor gay activist Harold Desmarais had introduced the resolution. This was the first time in Canada that a major political party adopted as policy one of the fundamental demands of the gay movement: the recognition and protection in law of the basic civil rights of lesbians and gays. Later that month, Ontario Liberal Party leader Stuart Smith also declared support for a sexual orientation clause in the Ontario Human Rights Code.

  106. June 19, 1976

    Notable Events 

    Protest of Police Raid on Jilly’s Bar in Montreal

    In May 1976, a lesbian bar in Montreal called Jilly’s was raided by police, who were armed with submachine guns. In response, more than 300 gays, lesbians and supporters joined in one of Canada’s largest gay rights demonstrations up to that point. The protest was organized by the Comité homosexuel anti-répression/Gay Coalition against Repression CHAR/GCAR. Five members of the Olympic Organizing Committee were fired for political activity related to this protest.

  107. January 04, 1977

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Notable Events 

    First University Course on Homosexuality from a Gay Perspective

    Canada's first graduate university course on homosexuality from a gay perspective, “Education and the Gay Experience,” began to be offered at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

  108. February 01, 1977

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Canada’s First Lesbian-Feminist Centre Opens in Toronto

    The Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT), together with feminist newspaper the Other Women and the Three of Cups Coffeehouse, moved into 342 Jarvis Street in Toronto, becoming the first lesbian-feminist centre in Canada. Founded in 1976, LOOT was Toronto’s first openly lesbian-feminist group. LOOT and the centre on Jarvis both ceased operating by 1981.

  109. February 17, 1977

    canadian-broadcasting-corporation

    Notable Events 

    Atlantic Canada’s First Public Gay Demonstration

    Eleven women and 10 men in Halifax protested a CBC policy that did not allow for the broadcast of gay public service announcements. This was the first public gay demonstration held in Atlantic Canada. Two days later, dozens of lesbians and gays participated in demonstrations held in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver to protest the CBC policy.

  110. October 22, 1977

    Gay Pride Parade

    Notable Events 

    Montreal Police Raid Two Gay Bars

    The political climate changed dramatically following a police raid on Montreal bars Truxx and Le Mystique, in the heart of the city’s gay community. The raids resulted in the largest mass arrests in Canada since the October Crisis of 1970. More than 50 policemen, some wearing bulletproof vests and armed with machine guns, arrested 146 men, charging them with being found-ins in a common bawdy house. (Some charges of gross indecency were also laid.) They were taken to police headquarters and held for 15 hours without bail, were subjected to compulsory testing for sexually transmitted infections and suffered verbal and physical abuse. The next evening, more than 2,000 gay men and allies blocked the corner of Ste-Catherine and Stanley, effectively paralyzing the downtown core. This drew a lot of media attention and put the issues of human rights front and centre. 

  111. December 19, 1977

    Gay Pride Parade

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Quebec Prohibits Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation

    Quebec’s National Assembly adopted a sexual orientation amendment to Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (Bill 88). There was only minor opposition to the amendment, which was signed into law on 19 December 1977. Quebec became the first province — and the largest political jurisdiction in North America — to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  112. January 06, 1978

    Gavel

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Jacques Gallant Loses Discrimination Lawsuit against CAF

    Jacques Gallant, the first person to take the Canadian Armed Forces to court over its discrimination of gays and lesbians, lost his case after appealing his discharge to the Federal Court of Canada. The court argued that it had no jurisdiction in the matter. The judge stated: “A person who joins the Forces enters into a unilateral commitment in return for which the Queen assumes no obligations.… Relations between the Queen and Her military personnel, as such, in no way give rise to a remedy in the civil courts.”

  113. January 18, 1978

    Gavel

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    First Bisexual Man to Win a Child Custody Case

    Ottawa County Court Judge Elmer Smith awarded a bisexual man custody of his 13-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter. This was the first time in Canada that a father known to have sex with other men had won a child custody case. The parent’s homosexuality was only considered acceptable because he also had sex with women and kept quiet about homosexuality. The judgment was founded on the myth that overt displays of homosexual affection are harmful to children.

  114. April 01, 1978

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Homosexuals Are no longer Prohibited from Immigrating to Canada

    Canada’s new Immigration Act, which removed long-standing prohibitions against homosexuals entering the country either as visitors or as immigrants, was proclaimed in force. This represented the first major victory for the Canadian gay and lesbian feminist movements at the federal level.

  115. April 29, 1978

    Notable Events 

    Edmonton’s First Gay Demonstration

    A visit by American anti-gay activist Anita Bryant to the Edmonton Coliseum, sponsored by the People’s Church of Alberta, prompted 300 people to participate in the first gay demonstration held in the city. The protest was organized by the Coalition to Answer Anita Bryant, and Concern, which was a coalition of liberal churches, women’s organizations and gay civil rights groups.

  116. June 25, 1978

    Notable Events 

    Rainbow Pride Flag is Flown for the First Time

    The original rainbow pride flag was designed by Gilbert Baker at the request of San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, who wanted a symbol of pride for the gay community. The flag was flown for the first time at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on 25 June 1978. Milk was assassinated five months later.

  117. August 09, 1978

    University of Waterloo

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Canada’s First Gay Radio Program Airs

    The hour-long show Gay News and Views was first broadcast on CKMS-FM 94.5 radio at the University of Waterloo. Run by the Kitchener-Waterloo Gay Media Collective, this was the first regularly scheduled gay radio program in Canada.

  118. September 05, 1978

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Stages First Production

    Buddies in Bad Times Theatre — founded by Sky Gilbert, Matt Walsh, Jerry Ciccoritti and Ken McDougall — staged its first production, Gilbert’s Angels in Underwear, at 496 Queen Street East in Toronto. Buddies’ original focus was on staged adaptations of poetry, but by the 1980s it became known as a queer theatre company. Gilbert is widely credited with nurturing hundreds of artists. Buddies inspired a generation to give voice to an emerging queer culture in the 1980s. (See also Queer Theatre in Toronto.)

  119. September 07, 1978

    Canada Place, Vancouver

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Vancouver’s First Gay Radio Program Airs

    Vancouver’s first gay radio program, Coming Out, made its debut on Vancouver Co-operative Radio (CFRO 102.7 FM).

  120. October 03, 1978

    Downtown Montreal

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Montreal's First Gay Television Program Is Broadcast

    Montreal's first gay television program began a trial run of 16 weeks on Cablevision Nationale. The program, containing news and interviews, was named 88 after Quebec's Bill 88 (signed into law on 19 December 1977), which added sexual orientation to Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

  121. December 09, 1978

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    First Raid of a Toronto Bathhouse

    Police raided the Barracks baths in Toronto and arrested 28 men. Twenty-three of the men were charged as being found-ins in a common bawdy house, and five with keeping a common bawdy house. Between 20 and 30 police officers participated in the raid, using hammers and crowbars to smash in doors and open lockers. This is believed to be the first organized assault by police on a gay bathhouse in Toronto’s history.

  122. June 06, 1979

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Toronto Teacher Charged with Keeping a Bawdy House

    An undercover Toronto police officer charged teacher Don Franco with keeping a common bawdy house, for the purpose of the practice of acts of indecency, in his own home. The policeman responded to Franco’s personal ad in the Body Politic. He was invited into Franco’s home and discussed sexual acts with him. The case made legal history for being the first time in Canada that a private home had been charged as a bawdy house when there was neither prostitution nor sex with minors involved. Franco was acquitted of the charges on 24 September 1981.

  123. June 07, 1979

    Canada Place, Vancouver

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    First Lesbian Radio Program in Canada

    Co-op Radio (102.7 FM) in Vancouver began broadcasting the half-hour-long Lesbian Show every Thursday evening. The first lesbian radio program in Canada, it discussed lesbian issues, profiled lesbian singers, writers, artists, politicians and comedians, and featured a lesbian calendar of events.

  124. June 08, 1979

    Toronto skyline in the early evening, 2011

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Premiere of First Lesbian Theatre Group in Toronto

    A Late Snow, a play by Jane Chambers, was performed by the Atthis Theatre Company in Toronto. This was the first play with an all-woman cast, written by a woman, with positive lesbian images, produced in Canada. The production was also the premiere of the Atthis Theatre Company, the first entirely lesbian theatre group in Toronto.

  125. June 16, 1979

    Gay Pride Parade

    Notable Events 

    Montreal’s First Gay and Lesbian Pride Week Begins

    Montreal’s first Gay and Lesbian Pride Week was held 16–23 June. On 23 June, 52 people marched on Saint-Laurent Boulevard from Sherbrooke to Duluth in the city’s first Pride March.

  126. December 10, 1979

    Activists and Politicians 

    First Openly Gay Person to Hold Public Office in Toronto

    Toronto gay activist George Hislop became the first openly gay person to hold public office in Toronto. Hislop was one of Canada's most influential gay activists and a key figure in the early development of Toronto's LGBTQ2 community.

  127. February 01, 1980

    LGBTQ Allies at the Pride March in Toronto, 2010.

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Gay Asians of Toronto (GAT) Is Founded

    Inspired by the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979, filmmaker Richard Fung founded Gay Asians of Toronto (GAT), the first organization in Canada to advocate for LGBTQ people of colour. GAT began publishing their own magazine, Celebrasian, in 1983. Fung further explored homosexuality among Asian people in his 1984 documentary, Orientations: Lesbian and Gay Asians.

  128. April 10, 1980

    Pride March on University Ave in Toronto, 1972.

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    “Gross Indecency” Is Introduced into Canadian Law

    Gross indecency covered all sexual acts between males not already covered by buggery. It applied to anyone “who in public or private is a party of the commission of or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of any act or gross indecency with another male person.” It included touching, fondling, fellatio, attempted buggery or homosexual intercourse. The maximum prison term was five years and a whipping, although there were also cases of lighter sentences without the lash. Those convicted were liable to a $50 fine and/or six months imprisonment with or without hard labour. Gross indecency was entered into Canada’s first Criminal Code when it was adopted in 1892. In 1953, the Criminal Code was revised to allow women to be charged with gross indecency, though that rarely happened.

  129. June 02, 1980

    Canada post mailbox

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Postal Workers Win No-Discrimination Clause

    The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) ratified a contract with the federal government that included a no-discrimination clause protecting sexual orientation. This was the first time that gay, lesbian and bisexual employees of a federal government department had been awarded such protection.

  130. July 07, 1980

    Canada Place, Vancouver

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Vancouver’s First Gay TV Program Airs

    Gayblevision, a weekly half-hour show for lesbians and gays, began broadcasting on Cable 10 Community TV. Gayblevision was Vancouver’s first television program oriented towards LGBTQ2 people.

  131. February 20, 1981

    Notable Events 

    March on Queen’s Park to Protest Bathhouse Raids

    More than 2,000 gays and their supporters rallied at Queen's Park to protest the 5 February raids. The protesters marched to 52 Division police headquarters and demanded that an independent inquiry be held into the raids. Community response to the 1981 bathhouse raids came to represent a watershed moment, rousing widespread political engagement, new-found support within the LGBTQ2 community and more coordinated strategies for public action.

  132. May 16, 1981

    LGBTQ Allies at the Pride March in Toronto, 2010.

    Notable Events 

    Canada’s First Lesbian Pride March

    More than 200 women in Vancouver marched from Robson Square to the West End Community Centre. The march took place during the fifth Binational Lesbian Conference.

  133. May 30, 1981

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Police Raid Bathhouse in Edmonton

    After consulting with police in Toronto, Edmonton police raided the Pisces Health Spa at around 1:30 a.m. Six men were charged with being keepers of a common bawdy house, and 56 men were arrested and charged with being found-ins. Their names were later broadcast by a local TV station. More than 100 people rallied at City Hall on 3 June in protest of the violation of civil liberties. The Pisces Raid became a galvanizing moment for Edmonton’s LGBTQ2 community.

  134. June 21, 1981

    Gay Pride Parade

    Notable Events 

    Victoria’s First Gay Pride Week Begins

    Gay Pride Week was held for the first time in Victoria, BC, 21–27 June.

  135. June 28, 1981

    Gay Pride Parade

    Notable Events 

    First Annual Gay Pride Celebrations Held in Toronto

    About 2,000 people celebrated Lesbian and Gay Pride Day, the first modern, annual Gay Pride celebrations held in Toronto.

  136. July 01, 1981

    Moncton, New Brunswick

    Notable Events 

    First Public Event for LGBTQ2 People in Moncton, NB

    Fearing a large influx of gays and lesbians into Moncton, New Brunswick, for a planned gay picnic, Moncton City Council passed a by-law amendment on 30 June forbidding organized groups of more than 40 people from assembling in Centennial Park, where the event was to be held. Despite the new bylaw, 100 gay men and lesbians held the picnic in the park on 1 July in the presence of a large number of police, making this the first public event for LGBTQ2 people in Moncton.

  137. August 01, 1981

    Michael Harcourt

    Notable Events 

    Vancouver’s First Official Pride Parade

    After the City of Vancouver had denied a permit for an official pride parade for years, newly elected mayor Mike Harcourt kept an election promise to proclaim and permit a Pride parade. More than 1,500 people attended.

  138. August 25, 1981

    RCMP

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    McDonald Commission Report Criticizes RCMP Surveillance of Gays and Lesbians

    A Royal Commission report released by the McDonald Commission confirmed that the RCMP's Security Service committed numerous illegal acts, carrying out surveillance of Canadian citizens on a far grander scale than was known. The Commission reported that by 1977 there were files on approximately 800,000 citizens, or one in every 30 Canadians, many of whom were gay and not perceived as possible threats to Canada's security. The Commission characterized the RCMP’s surveillance program as “far too indiscriminate.” One of the Commission report’s 285 recommendations was that “existing Security Service files on homosexuals be reviewed and that those which do not fall within the guidelines for opening and maintaining files be destroyed.” It also recommended the removal of national security from the RCMP’s responsibilities.

  139. October 17, 1981

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Notable Events 

    Lesbians Against the Right (LAR) Hold Toronto’s First Lesbian Pride March

    Lesbians Against the Right (LAR) was formed on 17 June 1981 amid an increasingly hostile social climate for lesbians. LAR’s goal was to fight right-wing oppression from a lesbian perspective. Mainly a political organization, one of LAR’s first actions was a lesbian march called Dykes in the Streets on 17 October. This was Toronto’s first lesbian pride march. LAR ceased operations in 1983.

  140. November 21, 1981

    Jim Egan

    Activists and Politicians 

    Jim Egan Elected to Public Office

    Jim Egan was elected as regional director for Electoral Area B of the Regional District of Comox-Strathcona in British Columbia. He became the first openly gay man living in an openly gay relationship to be elected to public office in Canada. Egan was re-elected twice and served until 1993, when he decided not to run for re-election.

  141. February 18, 1982

    AIDS, Number of New Cases

    Notable Events 

    First Canadian to Die from AIDS

    Bill Kovinsky, a 43-year-old in Windsor, Ontario, became the first Canadian to die of AIDS. By September of that year, Canada had 14 reported cases: 10 in Montreal, two in Toronto, and one each in Vancouver and Windsor.

  142. April 21, 1982

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Glad Day Bookshop Is Raided

    Toronto police raided Canada’s oldest LGBTQ2 bookstore and charged owner Kevin Orr with “possession of obscene material for purposes of resale.”

  143. June 24, 1982

    Edmonton in Winter

    Notable Events 

    Edmonton Holds First Pride Weekend

    One year after the raid on the Pisces Health Spa, Edmonton held its first Pride Weekend on 24–27 June at Camp Harris with a theme of “Pride through Unity.” According to activist Michael Phair, “It was about 40 people walking down Whyte Avenue, 15 of which were wearing bags over their heads.” Edmonton’s City Council did not officially recognize pride until 1993.

  144. May 03, 1983

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Little Sister’s Opens in Vancouver

    Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium, a gay bookstore in Vancouver’s West End, opened amid a climate of censorship in the early 1980s. Little Sister’s was bombed three times between 1983 and 1992.

  145. August 04, 1983

    AIDS, Number of New Cases

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Canada's First Community-Based AIDS Group Is Founded

    AIDS Vancouver, Canada's first community-based AIDS group, formed at a time when community activism on AIDS emerged as an urgent priority in Canada's larger cities.

  146. April 23, 1985

    Canadian Border

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Fraser Committee Report Declares Pornography Harmful, Leading to Censorship

    The Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, known as the Fraser Committee, concluded that pornography was harmful because it leads to an increase in sexual assaults. Canada Customs began forcing foreign publishers of gay sex magazines to censor their publications if they did not want them to be seized at the border. Magazines began appearing with whited-out pages and “censored” printed across them if customs officials objected to their content. In other cases, black dots or markings were placed over photographs and white spaces appeared over text.


  147. September 01, 1985

    Toronto skyline in the early evening, 2011

    Notable Events 

    Toronto Board of Education Implements Anti-Gay Discrimination Program

    After Toronto Board of Education (TBE) employee Kenneth Zeller was murdered in a hate crime in Toronto’s High Park, the school board introduced one of Canada’s first programs to combat discrimination against gay people.

  148. October 16, 1985

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    “Equality for All” Report Released

    In its official report, the Parliamentary Committee on Equality Rights concluded that a shockingly high degree of discrimination toward gay people existed in Canada. The committee recommended that the Canadian Human Rights Act be amended to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. This would not be achieved until June 1996.

  149. January 01, 1986

    A demonstration advocating for gay and lesbian rights in Toronto, ca. 1980's.

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Mulroney Government Extends Charter Protection to Sexual Orientation

    In 1986, the federal Conservative government stated that the courts would interpret section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as including sexual orientation protection. Section 15 of the Charter stated: “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” The military and the RCMP were opposed, and it took years of struggles and court battles before sexual orientation protection was finally added to the Act in 1996.

  150. December 02, 1986

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Ontario Bans Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

    An amendment to Bill 7 came into force in Ontario, adding sexual orientation to the list of grounds upon which discrimination was prohibited. The amendment made Ontario the second province, after Quebec in 1977, to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Manitoba followed in 1987 and Nova Scotia in 1991.

  151. December 08, 1986

    Canadian Border

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Canada Customs Seizes Books from Little Sister’s

    Citing the 1847 Customs Act, which prohibited importing “obscene” books with “immoral or indecent character,” Canada Customs seized more than 500 books and magazines that Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium had ordered. Some of the books were available at the Vancouver Public Library. After two years in court, the government admitted it was wrong to seize the books.

  152. August 02, 1987

    Winnipeg Skyline

    Notable Events 

    Manitoba’s First Recognized Gay Pride March

    About 250 gays, lesbians and allies gathered in Winnipeg for the city’s first official pride march. Some wore paper bags over their heads for fear of being identified in public.

  153. February 04, 1988

    AIDS, Number of New Cases

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    AIDS Action Now! (AAN) Holds Founding Meeting

    A group of veteran gay activists and other politicized people with AIDS formed a group inspired by the ACT UP movement called AIDS Action Now! (AAN). AAN became a highly effective and visible advocacy group that addressed issues such as a lack of access to promising new drug treatments. AAN also raised concerns that the medical and public health establishments were primarily concerned with the not-yet-infected. Also in 1988, AAN led a protest against the lack of a national strategy on AIDS. The federal government responded by increasing funding and establishing a National AIDS Strategy. AAN was also instrumental in forcing Ontario to establish a government-funded drug plan providing costly AIDS drugs.

  154. February 29, 1988

    Svend Robinson

    Activists and Politicians 

    Svend Robinson Becomes First Openly Gay MP

    Svend Robinson, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Burnaby, BC, since 1979, publicly declared his homosexuality and became the first openly gay MP in Canadian history.

  155. June 01, 1988

    New Democratic Party Logo

    Activists and Politicians 

    First Openly Gay Candidate Nominated by Major Party

    Doug Wilson became the first openly gay candidate to be nominated by a major political party in Canada. He ran for Parliament as an NDP candidate in the federal riding of Rosedale in Toronto. He also owned and operated Stubblejumper Press (founded in Saskatoon in 1977) and was a founding member of AIDS Action Now! (AAN). Wilson died of AIDS in September 1992.

  156. July 01, 1988

    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Notable Events 

    Halifax Holds First Official Pride March

    Amid a hostile climate (Shelburne County teacher Eric Smith was fired for having HIV/AIDS, and John William Tha Din was beaten to death in a local gay cruising area), around 75 people marched along Gottingen Street in Halifax’s first official pride march. Fearing for their safety, some of the participants wore bags on their heads.

  157. May 17, 1990

    Notable Events 

    World Health Organization Delists Homosexuality as a Mental Disorder

    In the 10th edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), the World Health Organization (WHO) officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

  158. June 07, 1990

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Little Sister’s Bookstore Launches Charter Challenge

    Following the detainment of 548 books and 77 magazines, Little Sister’s launched a Charter challenge of Canada Customs’ authority. It argued that the seizure and destruction of material at the border represented a restraint on freedom of speech and that Canada Customs was homophobic and discriminated against gay and lesbian literature. The types of books and magazines detained by Customs extended well beyond homosexual erotica at a time when straight pornographic material had no trouble making it across the border. Shipments of non-erotic material were routinely stopped at the border, including literary fiction, biographies and works about sociology, history, culture and the AIDS crisis.

  159. June 11, 1990

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Canada’s First Indigenous HIV/AIDS Group Holds First Workshop

    Edmonton’s Feather of Hope Society was Canada’s first organization dealing with HIV/AIDS issues among First Nations people. AIDS organizations for First Nations people, including those for two-spirited people, formed independently of the mainstream AIDS groups, since Indigenous people were reticent about approaching existing organizations or did not feel welcome. An example was Two-Spirited People of the First Nations (TSPFN), which focused on AIDS education in Toronto as well as on reserves, where, in the early 1990s, there was little awareness of AIDS.

  160. July 15, 1990

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Montreal Police Raid the Sex Garage

    Police in Montreal, long accused of harbouring a homophobic culture, raided The Sex Garage's After Party, sparking clashes between police and protesters that lasted a day and a half. Widely regarded as Montreal’s Stonewall, the Sex Garage raid united Quebec’s disparate LGBTQ2 communities and led to the formation of the Divers/Cité Pride March and such political-action groups as La Table de concertation des lesbiennes et des gais du Grand Montréal. 

  161. July 27, 1990

    Flag representing 2 Spirits people of the 1st Nations

    Notable Events 

    The Term Two-Spirit (niizh manidoowag) Is Coined

    At the Third Annual Intertribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference in Winnipeg, the term two-spirit (niizh manidoowag) was coined to give queer Indigenous people a non-Western term with which to refer to themselves. Many Indigenous languages also have their own words for gay and transgender persons.

  162. January 01, 1991

    Toronto skyline in the early evening, 2011

    Notable Events 

    Toronto Officially Endorses Pride for First Time

    For the first time since pride events began occurring in Toronto 20 years earlier, the City of Toronto officially endorsed the city’s Lesbian and Gay Pride Day.

  163. March 24, 1991

    For Better or For Worse

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Murder of Michael Boncoeur

    Gay comedian Michael Boncoeur was found dead in his apartment, having been stabbed to death during a robbery. In 1993, cartoonist Lynn Johnston, a friend of Boncoeur’s, decided to honour his memory and combat anti-gay stereotypes by building a storyline in her long-running For Better or For Worse comic strip around a character who comes out as gay.

  164. August 06, 1992

    Kim Campbell

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Haig v. Canada Ruling Adds Sexual Orientation to Human Rights Act

    The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the failure to include sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act is a form of discrimination. Justice Minister Kim Campbell then announced that the government would take the necessary steps to include sexual orientation in the Act. Various provinces soon followed suit and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, including New Brunswick (1992), British Columbia (1992), Saskatchewan (1993), Newfoundland and Labrador (1997), Alberta (1998) and PEI (1998). 

  165. October 19, 1992

    Activists and Politicians 

    First Openly Gay Man Elected to Public Office in Alberta

    Michael Phair, a leading gay activist, became the first openly gay man elected to public office in Alberta when he was elected as an Edmonton City Councillor. Phair became involved in gay rights activism after he was found guilty of being a found-in in the Pisces bathhouse raid in 1981. He served on Edmonton City Council until 2007.

  166. October 27, 1992

    Notable Events 

    CAF No Longer Prohibits Gays and Lesbians from Military Service

    The Canadian Armed Forces formally ended its discrimination against gays and lesbians, lifting the prohibition of gays and lesbians serving in the Armed Forces. This change in policy was the outcome of a court challenge by Michelle Douglas, an LGBTQ2 activist, humanitarian and civil servant. Douglas was honourably discharged for being a lesbian. In January 1990, she launched a lawsuit against the military for compensation for her dismissal and to challenge its discriminatory policy against gay and lesbian service members. On 27 October, the military settled out of court. Douglas was awarded $100,000. As part of the settlement, the Federal Court of Canada issued an order that the military’s policy violated section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (See also Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from the Military.)

  167. November 15, 1992

    AIDS, Number of New Cases

    Activists and Politicians 

    Death of Dr. Peter Jepson-Young

    Dr. Peter Jepson-Young died in Vancouver, British Columbia at age 35. An AIDS activist, he is known for presenting the Dr. Peter Diaries that shared his experience with AIDS, in order to educate Canadians about the disease. 

  168. February 16, 1993

    Canadian Border

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Glad Day Bookshop Loses Court Case

    Canada Customs seized 12 items of sexually explicit gay male material destined for Glad Day Bookshop. Charges were laid leading to a court case in 1992, where the judge ruled that the seized material, which portrayed anal sex, would harm the community. Glad Day was convicted, which unleashed outrage and a round of protests.

  169. February 25, 1993

    Supreme Court of Canada

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Supreme Court Rules on the Mossop Case

    The Supreme Court of Canada issued its ruling on a case involving Brian Mossop, a federal government employee. Mossop applied to claim his absence from work for his partner’s father’s funeral as bereavement leave under his collective agreement and the Canadian Human Rights Act. But his application was denied because his relationship did not fall within the “immediate family” category. He filed a grievance, which was rejected. He then filed a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act arguing that the collective agreement contravened section 3(1) of the Act, prohibiting discrimination based on “family status,” since the agreement excluded same-sex families. The Supreme Court rejected his case, arguing that Parliament had clearly and explicitly refused to add sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The case introduced sociological arguments before the courts that supported the idea that homosexual couples exhibited the same characteristics as heterosexual ones.

  170. June 30, 1993

    Supreme Court of Canada

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Supreme Court Ruling Allows LGBTQ2 Refugees to Enter Canada

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sexual orientation should be considered a “social group” in the context of determining refugee status. The Court ruled that gays and lesbians who were persecuted in other countries could apply for refugee status in Canada. (See also LGBTQ+ Refugees in Canada.)

  171. February 17, 1994

    Downtown Montreal

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Montreal Police Raid Katakombes Bar

    Three months after hearings at the Human Rights Commission focused on the repression of LGBTQ2 people by Quebec police, Montreal police raided the well-known KOX/Katakombes gay bar. All 165 men inside were arrested for being in a “bawdy house.”

  172. July 16, 1994

    Province House, Charlottetown

    Notable Events 

    First Pride March Held in PEI

    Prince Edward Island’s first Gay and Lesbian Pride March was held in Charlottetown to call for sexual orientation to be included in PEI’s Human Rights Act. Some participants wore bags on their heads to prevent being outed, while some onlookers hurled homophobic slurs and even oranges at the marchers, who reportedly used them to make smoothies afterward.

  173. March 02, 1995

    Hamilton

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Ontario Human Rights Commission Finds Hamilton’s Mayor’s Actions Discriminatory

    The OHRC ruled that Hamilton mayor Bob Morrow’s refusal to proclaim gay pride week in 1991 discriminated against homosexuals. Morrow was ordered to pay $5,000 and to officially proclaim gay pride week in 1996. However, Hamilton City Council circumvented the order by passing a motion banning all proclamations.

  174. May 24, 1995

    Gay Pride Vancouver

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Ontario Becomes First Province to Allow Adoption by Same-Sex Couples

    An Ontario Court (Provincial Division) judge ruled that the Child and Family Services Act of Ontario violates section 15 of the Charter by not allowing same-sex couples to adopt. The judge ruled that the definition of spouse should be amended to include partners of the same sex. Ontario became the first province to legalize adoption by same-sex parents. Other provinces and territories gradually followed, including British Columbia (1996); Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan (2001); Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Manitoba and Northwest Territories (2002); Yukon (2003); Alberta (2007); New Brunswick (2008); PEI (2009); and Nunavut (2011).

  175. May 25, 1995

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Supreme Court Rules that Sexual Orientation Is Covered by the Charter

    In the case of Egan v. Canada, Jim Egan and his partner, Jack Nesbit, argued that excluding pension benefits to same-sex couples under the Old Age Security Act violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court ruled against them, but it also agreed that the Charter protected lesbians and gay men from discrimination. It ruled unanimously that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination.

  176. October 29, 1995

    Queen's Avenue, London, 1875

    Notable Events 

    City of London Refuses Request for Pride Event

    Dianne Haskett, the mayor of London, Ontario, refused requests by the London gay rights group HALO to recognize pride weekend. After HALO president Richard Hudler filed a human rights complaint, the Ontario Human Rights Commission determined that Haskett’s actions were discriminatory. Haskett and the city were fined $5,000 each and forced to officially proclaim pride weekend in 1998.

  177. June 20, 1996

    House of Commons

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Canadian Human Rights Act Including Sexual Orientation Comes into Force

    Royal Assent is given to Bill C-33, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination. The Act covers the public service, including the army and the RCMP, as well as companies under federal charter, such as the banks, airlines and railways.

  178. July 15, 1996

    Gay Pride Parade

    Notable Events  LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Homosexual Couples Benefit

    The federal government agreed to extend benefits to same-sex partners of government employees.

  179. January 01, 1997

    Trans Pride Flag

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Canada’s First Trans Festival Begins

    Counting Past 2 Trans Arts Festival was founded by activist/artist Mirha-Soleil Ross. It was held annually in Toronto from 1997 to 1999 and again in 2002. The first event of its kind in North America, and possibly in the world, the festival’s mandate was to centre transgender work and voices over gay and lesbian ones.

  180. April 02, 1998

    Supreme Court of Canada

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Supreme Court Affirms that Provinces Cannot Discriminate Based on Sexual Orientation

    The Supreme Court of Canada heard the case involving the dismissal of a teacher, Delwin Vriend, after it was discovered that he was gay. At the time, Alberta’s human rights code did not protect on the basis of sexual orientation. The Court decided that because the language in section 15 of the Charter was open-ended, it could be interpreted as providing protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. With this win under the Charter, a missing piece was finally in place protecting all Canadians from discrimination based on sexual orientation, ending discrimination that gays and lesbians faced in employment and many other areas.

  181. October 28, 1998

    Activists and Politicians 

    First openly gay Mayor of a large North American city

    In 1998, Glenn Murray became the first openly gay mayor of a major city in North America when he was elected mayor of Winnipeg.

  182. May 19, 1999

    Supreme Court of Canada

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Couples Have Right to Equal Treatment

    In the case of M. v. H., the Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional for the Ontario Family Law Act to define “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex. It also extended this decision to any provincial law that denies same-sex couples equal benefits. Ontario was given six months to amend the Act.

  183. June 08, 1999

    Canadian Parliament

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Federal Government Preserves Definition of Marriage

    Even while faced with the reality of having to change laws to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on 19 May, the federal government voted 216–55 to preserve the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Justice Minister Anne McLellan stated that the government had “no intention of changing the definition of marriage or legislating same-sex marriage.”

  184. October 25, 1999

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Ontario Introduces Bill to Include “Same-Sex Partner” in Definition of Marriage

    In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in M. v. H., the Ontario government introduced Bill 5. It amended the Ontario Family Law Act to change any mention of “spouse” to “spouse or same-sex partner.” The Bill also amended more than 60 other provincial laws so that the rights of same-sex couples would be equal to the rights of common-law couples. The bill came into force on 1 March 2000.

  185. March 16, 2000

    Mayor Ralph Klein

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Alberta Threatens to Use Notwithstanding Clause against Same-Sex Marriage

    The Alberta government passed Bill 202, which said the province would use the notwithstanding clause to override any legalization of same-sex marriage.

  186. April 11, 2000

    Canadian Parliament

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Federal Benefits Extended to Same-Sex Common-Law Couples

    The Old Age Security program and the Canada Pension Plan extended benefits to persons living in same-sex common law relationships. For the first time, if one’s same-sex common-law partner contributed to the Canada Pension Plan and was deceased, the survivor was now eligible for survivor’s benefits.

  187. December 14, 2000

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Toronto Police Raid Pussy Palace Event

    Six male police officers raided Club Toronto’s “Pussy Palace,” an all-female queer and trans event. In 2002, an Ontario judge ruled that the police were in the wrong, and a class action lawsuit in 2005 resulted in a $350,000 settlement and a formal apology. The Toronto Police Service was also required to create cultural competency training regarding the LGBTQ2 community. (See also Sex Garage Raid.)

  188. December 15, 2000

    Supreme Court of Canada

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Supreme Court Rules on Little Sister’s Customs Challenge

    Following a 10-year legal battle, the Supreme Court upheld the Customs Act (passed in 1985) as constitutional but also stated in its decision that Canada Customs carried out a campaign of harassment against Little Sister’s bookstore. The court found that the problem did not lie with legislation but with poorly trained agents who did not interpret obscenity correctly. The court ordered Canada Customs to stop discriminating against Little Sister’s but maintained that the agency still had overall power to screen for obscene materials at the border. The court overturned one section of the Customs Act that forced importers to defend their materials. Instead, customs agents were now required to justify the seizure in court. Despite this ruling, border guards continued to seize material destined for Little Sister’s, leading to another round of legal action by the store against Canada Customs that lasted from 2001 until 2007.

  189. January 01, 2001

    Activists and Politicians 

    First openly lesbian Member of Parliament

    In 2001, NDP MP Libby Davies became the country's first openly lesbian member of parliament.

  190. November 17, 2001

    Stanley Park Landscape

    Notable Events 

    Hate Crime Murder of Aaron Webster in Vancouver

    In one of Canada’s most notorious anti-gay hate crimes, 41-year-old Aaron Webster was beaten to death by four young men with baseball bats and a golf club in a well-known cruising area in Stanley Park. The next day, more than 3,000 people attended a march and vigil in Webster’s honour.

  191. January 31, 2002

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Gender Identity Included in NWT Human Rights Act

    The Northwest Territories became the first jurisdiction in Canada to prohibit discrimination based on “gender identity.”

  192. April 28, 2002

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Notable Events 

    Health Canada Announces It Will Lift Ban on Blood Donations from Gay Men

    After decades of being accused of discriminating against gay men, Health Canada announced that it would lift its ban on receiving blood from men who have sex with men by the end of September 2022. The ban had been revised in 2019 to exclude donations from men who had had sex with men three months prior to donating. As of September 2022, questions regarding gay sex were removed from the screening process and replaced with questions to be asked regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

  193. May 10, 2002

    Gavel

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Marc Hall Wins Right to Take Boyfriend to Prom

    Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice issued an injunction that allowed high school student Marc Hall to take his boyfriend to prom at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School in Oshawa. The school had barred Hall’s boyfriend from attending over fears that people would think the school approved of their “homosexual lifestyle.” Hall eventually dropped his lawsuit against the school in 2005 after multiple delays.

  194. June 28, 2002

    Canadian Border

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Canada Allows Same-Sex Partners to Immigrate

    Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations came into effect, granting gay men and women the right to sponsor their partners’ immigration application to Canada.

  195. August 15, 2002

    Traiblazer Athletes 

    First Lesbian Canadian Athlete Comes Out

    Hockey player Nancy Drolet, a six-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist, became Canada’s first prominent female athlete to come out when she married her long-time partner Nathalie Allaire in a civil union ceremony in Quebec. A reporter for a local newspaper showed up and Drolet gave him an interview. “He acted like it was the scoop of the century,” Drolet later told Xtra, “but I’ve always been open and honest about my relationship with my family and friends. But this gave me an opportunity to clarify some false impressions.”

  196. September 01, 2002

    Québec Panorama

    Notable Events 

    Quebec City Holds First Pride Parade

    Quebec’s capital city marked the 25th anniversary of the Quebec Charter, which banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, by holding the city’s first gay pride parade.

  197. December 12, 2002

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Calgary Police Raid Goliath Bathhouse

    Police in Calgary raided Goliath’s Sauna and Texas Lounge, a well-known gay bar, charging 13 people with being in a bawdy house. All charges were eventually dismissed by the courts.

  198. June 10, 2003

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Ontario Becomes First Province to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

    After the Ontario Superior Court ruled on 12 July 2002 that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage were discriminatory, Ontario became the first province to permit same-sex marriage on 10 June 2003. Other provinces and territories soon followed suit, including British Columbia (2003); Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Yukon (2004).

  199. June 10, 2003

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    First Legal Same-Sex Marriage in Canada

    In Toronto, Ontario, Michael Stark and Michael Leshner entered into the first legal same-sex marriage in Canada. Time magazine later named them the 2003 Canadian Newsmakers of the Year.


  200. November 15, 2003

    Activists and Politicians  Notable Events 

    First Same-Sex Marriage of a Serving Cabinet Minister

    A few months after a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling legalized same-sex marriage, Ted Nebbeling became Canada's first serving cabinet minister to legally marry his same-sex partner. A pre-decided cabinet shuffle just a day later left Nebbeling, who had served two years as Minister of State for Community Charter, without portfolio. He left provincial politics following the 2005 elections.

  201. March 19, 2004

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    Notable Events  LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Same-Sex Marriage Legalized

    A Court of Appeal ruling legalized same-sex marriage in Québec.

  202. July 20, 2005

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Canada Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage with Civil Marriage Act

    The federal Bill C-38 was passed, according same-sex couples the right to marry across Canada. (Same-sex marriage was already legal in eight provinces and the Yukon.) This made Canada the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands in 2000 and Belgium in 2003.

  203. March 13, 2006

    Marc-André Grondin, Michel Côté and Jean-Marc Vallée

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    C.R.A.Z.Y. Wins 11 Genie Awards including Best Motion Picture and the Golden Reel Award

    C.R.A.Z.Y., Jean-Marc Vallee’s acclaimed film about a gay teenager coming of age in Quebec during the Quiet Revolution, won 10 Genie Awards, including best director, best screenplay and best film, as well as the Golden Reel Award (now the Golden Screen Award) as the year’s highest grossing Canadian film. It also won 13 Jutra Awards (now Prix Iris), including the Billet d’or for highest grossing Quebec film of the year.

  204. May 01, 2006

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Brossard Wins Molson Prize

    Writer Nicole Brossard won the $50,000 Canada Council Molson Prize for her contribution to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Canada.

  205. January 01, 2007

    Victoria from the Air

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Transgender Archives Is Founded

    The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria was established. It holds the world’s largest collection of archival material related to modern transgender activism and research. It officially launched in 2011.

  206. June 26, 2009

    Notable Events 

    First Trans March Held in Toronto

    Frustrated by Pride Toronto’s lack of outreach to the transgender community, Karah Mathiason organized a march along Church Street from Bloor to Wellesley, where they were forced to push through metal barriers to join the Pride Parade.

  207. February 28, 2010

    Traiblazer Athletes 

    Vancouver Olympics Become First to Host a Pride House for LGBTQ2 Athletes

    For the first time at an Olympic Games, the host nation provided a dedicated space specifically for LGBTQ2 athletes.

  208. June 17, 2010

    Québec Panorama

    Notable Events 

    First Trans Protest Held in Quebec City

    Activist group PolitiQ-queer solidaire organized a demonstration calling for changes to Quebec’s policies concerning gender marker changes and methods of changing one’s name. Around 200 people attended.

  209. August 08, 2010

    Notable Events 

    Fredericton Holds First Official Pride

    About 300 people marched in Fredericton’s first gay pride parade, which had been approved by City Council in February after years of struggle.

  210. November 06, 2010

    Traiblazer Athletes 

    Angela James Becomes First Openly Gay Player Inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame

    Angela James, also known as the “Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey,” was a pioneering and dominant force in women's hockey during the 1980s and 1990s. James led the Canadian women’s hockey team to four world championships (1990, 1992, 1994, and 1997). She was also one of the first three women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. On 6 November 2010, she became the first openly gay person and only the second Black player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

  211. January 10, 2011

    Gavel

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Saskatchewan Prohibits Refusal of Marriage Rights on Religious Grounds

    The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal struck down two attempts by the provincial government to allow marriage officers to refuse to issue marriage permits to same-sex couples due to their religious beliefs.

  212. June 14, 2012

    Trans Pride Flag

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Provinces Begin to Entrench Protections for Transgender People

    Manitoba passed the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, which protected transgender and other gender-diverse persons from discrimination based on gender identity. Other provinces soon followed suit, including Ontario (2012); PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador (2013); Saskatchewan (2014); Alberta (2015); Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia (2016); Nunavut, Yukon and New Brunswick (2017).

  213. August 01, 2012

    Whitehorse

    Notable Events 

    Yukon Holds First Pride March

    In response to an educational policy introduced by the local Catholic Bishop, queer activists Stephanie Hammond and Fiona Griffin organized Yukon’s first Pride march, which was held in Whitehorse. As Hammond said, “Our queer kids were being taught they were evil. We were not OK with that.” Later that month, the Northwest Territories also held its first Pride event, from 31 August to 3 September.

  214. February 11, 2013

    Kathleen Wynne

    Notable Events 

    Kathleen Wynne Becomes Canada’s First Openly Gay Premier

    Kathleen Wynne, who came out as a lesbian in the early 1990s, was officially sworn into the office of Premier of Ontario after winning the leadership of the governing Ontario Liberal Party on the third ballot.

  215. September 27, 2014

    Indigenous Place Names

    Notable Events 

    Nunavut Holds First Pride Festival

    The first Pride Festival in Nunavut was held in Iqaluit. The idea for the festival was sparked by city councillor Kenny Bell and Iqaluit resident Anubha Momin, who raised a rainbow flag at city hall during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws.

  216. May 05, 2015

    Activists and Politicians 

    First Openly Non-Binary Person Elected in Alberta

    Colombian-born Estefan Cortes-Vargas became the first non-binary person to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

  217. July 25, 2015

    Notable Events 

    First Official Indigenous Pride Event in Canada

    An LGBTQ pride celebration believed to be the first on-reserve event of its kind in Canada was held at the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation in Ontario. Remarks from local leaders including Chief Ava Hill honoured the community's two-spirited people.

  218. December 15, 2015

    Rainbow graffiti Montreal

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Canada’s First Trans Judge Is Appointed

    Kael McKenzie, a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and a former Manitoba chair of the Canadian Bar Association, became the first transgender person to become a judge in Canada when he was appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba.

  219. May 17, 2016

    Notable Events  LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Liberals Table Transgender Rights Bill

    On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced legislation to protect the rights of transgender Canadians. If passed, the bill would make it illegal to deny someone a job or discriminate against them in the workplace based on their gender identity or expression. The Criminal Code would also be updated to protect transgender individuals from being targeted by hate propaganda and hate crimes.

  220. May 28, 2016

    Gay Pride Vancouver

    Notable Events 

    Conservative Party Ends Opposition to Gay Marriage

    At the federal Conservative Party convention in Vancouver, members voted to end the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage by deleting the definition of marriage from its official policy. Many Conservatives spoke out in support of the values of equality and respect embodied in this decision. Same-sex marriage has been legal across Canada since the Civil Marriage Act was passed in 2005.

  221. June 01, 2016

    Notable Events 

    Pride flag raised on Parliament Hill

    To kick off Canada’s first-ever Pride Month, and for the first time in Canadian history, the Pride flag was raised on Parliament Hill by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A year later, the Transgender Pride flag was also raised, on June 1, 2017.

  222. June 22, 2016

    Bathhouse Raids

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Toronto Police Express Regret for Bathhouse Raids

    Toronto police chief Mark Saunders publicly expressed "regret" on behalf of his force for the 1981 bathhouse raids. On 5 February of that year, Toronto police officers arrested about 300 gay men on charges of being found in a common bawdy house or keeping a common bawdy house. Most of the charges were dropped, but the raids further persecuted and marginalized a group whose rights were largely unprotected in Canadian society of the time. They also spurred a new era of political activism in the city’s LGBTQ2 community.

  223. June 29, 2016

    Notable Events 

    Ontario issues non-gendered identification

    The Government of Ontario announced that as of 2017, drivers have the option to display an “X” (for unspecified) on their driver’s licences. Additionally, “F” and “M” markers have now been removed from all new provincially-issued health cards. The government wishes “to ensure the fair, ethical and equitable treatment of people with trans and non-binary gender identity.”

  224. July 03, 2016

    Pride 2014

    Notable Events 

    Toronto Pride Parade 2016

    An eventful Pride Parade in Toronto marked the culmination of the first-ever Pride Month in Canada. Justin Trudeau became the first sitting prime minister to march in the parade. Activist group Black Lives Matter staged a blockade that stalled the event until Pride Toronto’s executive director had signed a list of demands put forward by the group (the most controversial of which was that police floats be barred from future parades). Though Black Lives Matter hailed it as a victory, Pride Toronto later characterized the signing of the list as the start of a “conversation” that enabled the parade to continue, not as a binding agreement.

  225. July 09, 2016

    Steinbach

    Notable Events 

    Overwhelming Turnout for Pride March in Steinbach

    The first Pride march in Steinbach, Manitoba, brought an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people to the city of about 13,000 residents. Many travelled from other parts of the country to support the local LGBTQ community in its first public celebration. Organizers faced hurdles getting the necessary permissions for the event, and the city’s mayor, member of Parliament and member of the Legislative Assembly all announced they would not attend. Prior to the march, the traditionally conservative community drew national attention when education officials denied requests to adapt the curriculum to discuss differences in sexual orientation and gender.

  226. October 01, 2016

    House of Commons

    Notable Events 

    Records of Discharged Service Members Amended

    The House of Commons defence committee voted unanimously for the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau to order the military ombudsman to amend the service records of LGBTQ2 ex-military members who had been given dishonourable discharges because of their sexual orientation. (See Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from the Military.) It was estimated that such an order would affect up to 1,200 service members.

  227. November 29, 2016

    Notable Events  LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Ontario’s All Families Are Equal Act Passed

    Ontario passed Bill 28, the All Families are Equal Act, giving all parents equal rights under the law, “whether they are LGBTQ2+ or straight, and whether their children were conceived with or without assistance.”

  228. January 17, 2017

    Arts, Culture and Media  Notable Events 

    First transgender woman actor nominated at the Canadian Screen Awards

    Actor Gabrielle Tremblay, from Québec, became the first transgender woman actor to be nominated at the Canadian Screen Awards. She was nominated for “Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” for her work in Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves, directed by Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie.

  229. April 27, 2017

    Notable Events 

    First Canadian to be issued identification card without gender marker

    Searyl Atli Doty, a child from British Columbia, became the first Canadian to be issued an identification card without a gender marker. Instead of an “F” (female) or “M” (male), Doty’s health card is marked with a “U” for undetermined or unassigned. Doty’s parent, Kori Doty, requested that gender be withheld from the child’s birth certificate — a request that was previously denied by the government. Doty’s case is currently under review by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

  230. June 15, 2017

    Notable Events 

    Bill C-16 passed by the Senate

    The Senate of Canada passed a bill to protect against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Bill C-16 is an amendment to the Criminal Code, clarifying that an offence “motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.” Discrimination based on gender identity or expression — just like race, religion, age, gender and sexual orientation — is now prohibited under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  231. July 28, 2017

    Notable Events  LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Northwest Territories introduces changes to the Vital Statistics Act

    The Government of the Northwest Territories (NWT) introduced two important changes to the Vital Statistics Act. Firstly, NWT residents can now use a single traditional name as their legal name on identification documents, a change that supports the efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim their traditions and culture. Secondly, individuals born in the NWT can now apply to change the gender on their birth certificate without having to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Additionally, those who identify neither as male nor as female can choose a third option, gender X, if they were born in the NWT. This change aims to “promote inclusion and fight discrimination against transgender and non-binary people.” The NWT is the first province or territory to recognize gender X on birth certificates.

  232. August 31, 2017

    Notable Events  LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Gender X becomes option on official Canadian documents

    Canadians can now choose to have an “X” (for unspecified) on their official documents. This measure aims to make it easier to obtain passports and travel and immigration documents that better reflect an individual’s gender identity or expression.

  233. September 01, 2017

    Notable Events 

    Canada welcomes LGBTQ2 Chechen refugees

    According to the Globe and Mail, Canada welcomed some twenty LGBTQ2 Chechen refugees over the summer of 2017 through a one-of-a-kind underground program. The strategy was kept secret by the federal government and NGOs (including Toronto-based organization Rainbow Railroad) assisting LGBTQ2 individuals attempting to flee persecution in their home countries.

  234. September 21, 2017

    Notable Events 

    Newfoundland and Labrador announces option to obtain gender-neutral and non-binary birth certificates

    Newfoundland and Labrador announces option to obtain gender-neutral and non-binary birth certificate. Individuals aged 12 years and older residing in Newfoundland and Labrador will now be able to choose an “X” (for unspecified) on their birth certificates.

  235. November 05, 2017

    Notable Events 

    Canada’s first transgender mayor is elected

    Julie Lemieux became the first transgender person elected to the head of a municipality in Québec and in Canada. During local elections in Québec, she was elected mayor of Très-Saint-Rédempteur in Montérégie. She was previously elected city councillor in 2013.

  236. November 28, 2017

    Gay Pride Parade

    Notable Events 

    Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Federal Discrimination against LGBTQ2 Canadians

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized in the House of Commons for discrimination committed or condoned by the federal government and its agencies against LGBTQ2 Canadians. The apology came with a $145-million compensation package that included $110 million for civil servants whose careers suffered because of discriminatory actions against them. (See also Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from the Military; Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from Public Service.)

  237. January 23, 2019

    Pride 2014

    LGBTQ2 Organizations 

    Pride Toronto Votes to Keep Police Out of Parade

    Members of Pride Toronto voted 163–161 to prevent uniformed police officers from participating in the city’s annual pride parade and related events, reversing a decision made by Pride Toronto’s board of directors in October. Police were barred from marching in the parade in 2017 and 2018 in response to a Black Lives Matter protest that halted the parade in 2016. Members of Toronto’s LGBTQ2+ community were also critical of the Toronto Police Service’s handling of several disappearances and murders in Toronto’s gay village.

  238. May 25, 2019

    Genderbread Person

    Notable Events 

    WHO Changes Terminology around Gender Identity

    In the 11th edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), the World Health Organization (WHO) began to use the term gender incongruence instead of transsexualism to describe people with a gender identity different than the one assigned to them at birth. (See also Transgender.)

  239. May 27, 2019

    Flag representing 2 Spirits people of the 1st Nations

    Arts, Culture and Media 

    Canada’s First Two-Spirit Archives Is Created

    The first two-spirit archives in Canada is launched at the University of Winnipeg. Most of the materials were donated by long-time two-spirit activist Albert William McLeod.

  240. January 10, 2020

    Genderbread Person

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    BC Court Rules on Right to Gender Dysphoria Treatment

    The BC Court of Appeal reaffirmed a decision allowing a 15-year-old to undergo hormone treatment without their parents’ consent. However, it overturned part of the earlier ruling that had declared the father’s misgendering of his child a form of “family violence.” (See also The Road to Inclusion: Transgender Health Care in Canada.)

  241. January 28, 2021

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    LGBTQ2 People and the Law 

    Court Finds Quebec Civil Code Discriminates against Trans People

    The Superior Court of Québec ruled that six provisions in the Civil Code of Québec were unconstitutional because they violated rights that are outlined in both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the court did not strike down a parent’s right to veto a child’s name change and continued to require that a sex be designated at birth without exception.

  242. September 20, 2021

    Flag representing 2 Spirits people of the 1st Nations

    Activists and Politicians 

    First Openly Two-Spirit MP Elected

    Blake Desjarlais, of Cree and Métis descent and originally from the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement in northwestern Alberta, became Canada’s first openly two-spirit Member of Parliament when he was elected to represent Edmonton Griesbach.