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Pride groups speak out against hate

By Randy Thoms Aug 4, 2023 | 4:08 PM

Pride group representatives met virtually with NDP MPP Kirsten Wong-Tam to discuss the level of hate toward the 2SLGBTQI+ community, August 3, 2023.

Pride groups in Ontario are looking for support from the provincial government to combat hate.

Statistics Canada reports hate crimes based on sexual orientation have risen 107 per cent in the last year.

Chair of Thunder Pride in Thunder Bay, Scotia Kauppi calls it unprecedented.

Scotia Kauppi, Thunder Pride Association

“We don’t see this level of violence normally. This is unprecedented. Thunder Pride has been around for over a decade. Every other chair that I’ve ever talked to, our founders have no idea what we currently are going through as a Pride organization because they’ve never seen it. It’s unprecedented. The safety of our community is the premier’s responsibility,” says Kauppi.

“Seeing this hate online, it forces people back into the closet,” says Jason Mclelland, chair of North Bay Pride. “It raises our suicide rate, which is now another burden on our health care system. We have protests at schools. The resources and the attacks on children by these hate groups are unbelievably profound on the effect it has on so many people in so many different ways. And as much as we can’t keep up with it, we can’t keep up with the hate that is online anymore. We need our government to step in and make it so that we can do those things.”

NDP Critic for 2SLGBTQ+ issues Kristyn Wong-Tam introduced a private member’s bill earlier this year to create a hate crime strategy.

It would include community safety zones around facilities where Pride events are taking place.

NDP MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam

Wong-Tam says they have been unable to get the government’s attention.

“They have sidestepped their responsibility, and we’re asking them to step up because it is their responsibility to take action. The government’s inaction is causing real impacts,” says Wong-Tam.

Wong-Tam says failing to react could result in Pride events being cancelled.

“Regrettably, more two-spirited, queer and trans people will continue to be hurt and suffer at a time when we know that business revenues are down, at a time where we know that after a punishing global health pandemic, we need to see more investments and we need to see jobs, we need to see our businesses being supported,” says Wong-Tam.

Wong-Tam’s proposed legislation has not yet been discussed at the committee level or received debate by MPPs at Queen’s Park.


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