Pride is a time for us come together to celebrate the achievements of the LGBTQ community and the advances we’ve made in our province for all Ontarians regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.
As we come together to celebrate in the streets, in our homes, in our places of worship, and in clubs and cafes - this year is different.
Only weeks ago, 49 people were killed in a horrific and tragic shooting at a club in Orlando, Florida. Most of those killed were LGBTQ people of colour, primarily Latinx and Black.
This brutal massacre targeting the LGBTQ community sparked a wave of memorials and vigils in Ontario, across Canada and around the world as people joined together in pain and in shock to find strength in solidarity and unity.
Thirty-six years ago Toronto Pride started with a handful of people struggling against homophobia and transphobia coming together in solidarity to demand justice and equality. It started as a protest in the streets, by a few brave activists, and has now flourished into a celebration enjoyed by more than a million people.
The themes of solidarity and unity and finding strength in the face of profound tragedy and loss have always been a part of what Pride is about and this year it has a special resonance.
It's truly inspiring to see how far we’ve come - and I’m proud of the role New Democrats have played in supporting LGBTQ communities in the fight for human rights — from GSAs in our schools, to Toby’s law, to putting an end to ‘conversion therapy’ in Ontario.
But this year we're reminded there is much work ahead of us.
We will continue to work directly with LGBTQ parents to ensure strong Parenting Equality protections for all LGBTQ families.
Furthermore, it is my strong belief that transgender and gender variant Ontarians deserve the same rights and protections that all other Ontarians already enjoy. We know there continue to be barriers in terms of identity documents, violence affecting the trans community and lack of healthcare services. I am committed to ensuring transgender and gender variant Ontarians have equal rights and access to services in our province.
Social change takes years of hard work. And that work continues.
Let’s continue to join together to build an inclusive, progressive Ontario.