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LGBTQ2S+ community celebrates milestone at flag-raising

May 15 is the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada

THUNDER BAY - The local LGBTQ2S+ is getting an early start to their celebrations this year.

Although Pride Week is held in June, the Thunder Pride Association dedicated a day to remember former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's famous quote: "There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality, the Thunder Pride Association hosted a flag-raising at City Hall on the international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.

“We still have a long way to go, but this is a milestone to reach in this country,” said Jason Veltri, chair of Thunder Pride Association.

“We’re afforded rights that 70-plus countries still aren’t and that’s where the fight continues.”

Same-sex sexual activity became legal in Canada in 1969 after the Criminal Law Amendment Act came into royal assent.

Veltri said organizing an event of this nature was only recently a possibility.

“We couldn’t have done this 10 years ago. Our group was still heavily discriminated against., so now that we’re at a point where we can hold these flag raisings is wonderful.”

Veltri said the discussion surrounding LGBTQ2S+ rights is progressing on both a local and national scale. He referred to the Liberal government's efforts to create more open LGBTQ2S+ dialogue, and Health Canada’s ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men reduced from one year to three months, as signs of improvement.

“I think where we need to go is where we don’t have these events anymore. Where it’s just part of our fabric of who we are as human beings.”

Coun. Shelby Ch’ng spoke on the mayor’s behalf at the event, saying despite some of the problems the LGBTQ2S+ community faces in Thunder Bay, its growth is encouraging.

“A lot of my friends and people I know have moved to other municipalities that are more accepting and open about a different way of life when it comes to sexuality.”

"We’re seeing this being spoken about more openly and I’m confident that with more discussion and events like this people will become more comfortable.”

Michael Charlebois

About the Author: Michael Charlebois

Michael Charlebois was born and raised in Thunder Bay, where he attended St. Patrick High School and graduated in 2015. He attends Carleton University in Ottawa where he studies journalism.
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