May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. In 2004, this day was chosen as the Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in part to recognize the significance of that declaration in 1990.

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia highlights the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, or sex characteristics. Lego minifigs lined up in the colours of the Pride flag

Some Canadian Context

In the 1950s, a psychology professor at Carleton University developed the Fruit Machine, designed to identify gay men by tracking their physical responses to viewing erotic gay imagery. It was used throughout the following two decades to weed out suspected homosexuals from the civil service, resulting in these public-service employees’ careers being destroyed. The Fruit Machine was only completely retired in the 1990s. 

In 2016, Egale Canada submitted the Gross Indecency Report to the Canadian Government. The report requested a formal apology and reparations for the criminal persecution, job loss, ineligibility for pensions and dishonourable discharge from the military following decriminalization. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all party leaders offered an official apology in 2017 for the discrimination and persecution perpetrated by the government against people suspected of homosexuality. 

The most recent Public Service Employee Survey sheds light on present-day harassment of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals in the public service. In 2020, 11% of public-service employees indicated that they had been harassed. However, those who identified as gay or lesbian had a rate of 13%. Those who identified as bisexual were subjected to harassment 14% of the time, and gender-diverse people reported harassment at a rate of 21%. 

The JLP is proud to help grow a diverse and inclusive public service. Through its various workshops and guided discussions, the JLP fosters respect for differences, the fight against discrimination and the prevention of harassment and violence against 2SLGBTQIA+ people.


Photo by James A. Molnar on Unsplash