Supporting gay rights is no longer taboo for Canadian politicians

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Something significant is happening in the province of Ontario.

Ontario's Liberal government did an about face and is now telling publicly funded Catholic schools that they must allow their students to call anti-homophobic clubs "gay-straight alliances".

The change in the Liberal government's new anti-bullying bill — the Accepting Schools Act — is part of a government initiative to create a "safe and accepting climate" in all schools.

It's not only a bold move by premier Dalton McGuinty, but an indication that it's no longer taboo for Canadian politicians to proactively support gay rights.

Canada is  longer the country it was in 1970's, when police across the country use to raid gay bathhouses and arrest patrons.

We are far removed from 1975, when a special joint committee on Immigration Policy recommended that "homosexuals no longer be prohibited from entering Canada".

Canadians - including our politicians - have evolved.

Pride day celebrations now take place across the country with politicians from all political stripes.

Even the Conservatives - not known for their enthusiastic support of the LGBT community - in recent years have shown signs of being more 'gay-friendly.'

Several Conservative MPs, including Cabinet ministers Vic Toews, John Baird and Rona Ambrose, appeared in an "It Gets Better" video released last year dedicated to the memory of Jamie Hubley, an Ottawa teenager who killed himself after battling depression and taunts about being openly gay.

And, earlier this year -- after a fury over a legal loophole that could have meant the end of gay marriages of foreigners in Canada -- Stephen Harper came out and said said his government has no plans of revisiting the issue of same-sex marriage.

The politicos may be buoyed by public opinion.

It appears the vast majority of Canadians believe that gay rights should be protected.

Out of the 1,007 Canadians that responded to an Angus Reid poll in March, 59 per cent agreed that same-sex marriage should continue to be legal, as opposed to 14 per cent that believe same-sex couples should no longer receive legal recognition.

There will always be segments of the population opposed to gay-rights legislation, but McGuinty is showing that politicians are now less concerned about those voter groups.