50 Years And Still Fighting
May 26, 2020
What makes a moment?
In 1967, Everett Klippert was declared a dangerous sexual offender and sentenced to indefinite detention – life in prison – for consensual homosexual sex, otherwise known as gross indecency, sparking a national conversation.
On May 14, 1969, Bill C-150 passed in the House of Commons, ‘decriminalizing’ private homosexual acts between consenting men over the age of 21. Klippert was not released until 1971.
The focus on private versus public acts led to intensified Canada-wide policing of queer communities and sex workers, particularly those who did not have access to private spaces. From bar raids to cruising busts, the 1970s witnessed an upswing of violence and discrimination countered by passionate advocacy and radical activism.
This year, as people across the country recognize the 50th Anniversary of the passing of Bill C-150, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, we ask ourselves what makes a moment? Do we focus on a single snapshot in time, or the innumerable collective actions made by many which allowed progress to occur? For that matter, was Bill C-150 progress?
On August 28, 1971, during the We Demand demonstrations, activists on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in front of the Vancouver Court House read out a list of 10 demands. Aimed at ending legal discrimination against lesbians and gays, these demands sought to address the limits of Bill C-150. While We Demand was the first national demonstration by LGBTQ2+ communities, it was not the last. What has followed from the 1969 Criminal Law Amendment Act has been 50 years of fighting.
Progress is not a singular event, but the story of our collective dreams, actions and battles for liberation across time. As we recognize the 50th Anniversary of partial decriminalization, we invite you to consider the obstacles, opportunities, and possibilities that radiated out from that historical moment. As we recognize the monumental gains won in the last half century, we are reminded that it has been 50 years and we are still here.
We invite you to join the conversation on social media using #stillfighting50 to tell us how you are still engaged in fighting for change. We are #stillfighting50 years later because until all LGBTQAI2+ people are free worldwide, there is still work to be done.