OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Nova Scotia
Slap reader Paul has written in with some good news coming out of Nova Scotia. The province passed its Transgendered Persons Protection Act on Friday, explicitly protecting trans Nova Scotians from housing and employment discrimination. The bill still requires royal assent before becoming law, but there’s nothing to worry about there. I’ve yet to see the terms “queen” and “denied GLBT rights” appear alongside each other.
The province of Nova Scotia has refused to pay for a trans man’s hysterectomy, leaving him with a surprise $3,400 bill.
After experiencing some abdominal pain, Jessiah MacDonald was told that his uterus had several abnormal polyps and was recommended by a gynecologist that it be removed for preventative measures. He took his doctor’s advice (as most people should), but was told after the operation that he would have to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket because the province doesn’t pay for sex reassignment surgery.
“I felt it was wrong because despite my gender, I still have pieces of my body and if a piece of my body gets sick, I expect it to be treated as any other piece,” Jessiah told the media in an interview.
Canada has universal health care, which means that provinces typically pay for all medical bills, but sex reassignment is still considered cosmetic or unnecessary by some jurisdictions. Nova Scotia is obviously one of the provinces with this outdated view, but also apparently hasn’t considered the possibility that not all uterine surgery on trans people is related to sex reassignment.
Jessiah has now filed a human rights complaint against Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness.
Tremendously sad news out of Halifax today as Raymond Taavel, a well-known activist for the gay community, was killed by an assailant while trying to break up a fight outside the city’s gay bar. A candlelight vigil is being organized by the Halifax community to honour his memory. My thoughts go out to everyone devastated by this senseless tragedy.
A Haligonian couple says they won’t be dealing with the Casino taxi company in the future after they were kicked out onto the street for sharing a kiss.
Paul Laybolt says that he and his husband were well on their way home from a popular Halifax gay bar when he leaned over toward his husband, asked if he had a good night, and gave him a short peck on the lips. At this point, the cab driver pulled over to the side of the road, told the couple that he doesn’t go to their destination, and asked the two to get out of the cab. The couple walked the rest of the way home.
A manager for Casino, Brian Herman, apologised to the couple over the phone, but was unable to reprimand the driver because his cab number was unknown and the taxi was hailed from the street rather than being dispatched by telephone.
It’s crazy that this sort of thing still happens today—particularly in Halifax which, from my vacation experiences, is a wonderfully laid back city. Homophobia still lurks everywhere, though, and it’s great that Paul and his husband have reported it.
Thanks to Slap reader Kirk for the story!
- Video: Man Says He Was Asked To Leave Taxi After Kiss [Haligonia.ca]
I love mayors. They’re inherently funny, like the head of a condo association—passionately seizing what amounts to no real power. And aren’t we in luck? There are two mayor stories today!
Bill Mills, the mayor of Truru, Nova Scotia (who you may remember for some earlier anti-gay shenanigans), is facing extra accusations of homophobia after declaring that gay men alone are responsible for a proposal to install a locked gate at Victoria Park, restricting hours for all residents. Many people are angry with the proposal, and while the park has a reputation of being shady (pun kind of intended), it has many problems, including drug dealers, underage drinking, and teenage hookups—not just gay cruising. Still, Mayor Mills has refused to withdraw or clarify his comments. The rest of the city council, meanwhile, has publicly distanced themselves from the mayor’s craziness.
In some better mayor-related news, our friends in Houston, Texas have reason to celebrate after electing their very first lesbian mayor! Annise Parker, an openly gay politician with a partner of 16 years and two adopted children, won with 53.6 percent of the vote in the normally über-conservative U.S. state. The voter turnout was one of the lowest in history, mind you, at just over 16 percent. But that’s just more proof that mayors are silly positions. Am I right?
I guess someone in Amherst, Nova Scotia isn’t too fond of rainbows.
A Pride flag that was being flown in front of Amherst’s city hall to celebrate the Cumberland Gay Pride week was removed and slashed by vandals on Thursday. The Mayor, Robert Angel, said he’s disappointed about the vandalism, and quickly had the flag replaced.
Cumberland Pride’s chair, Gerard Velhoven, expressed his disappointment to the press:
Amherst is a very positive town. We had such a great event here Monday that made everyone feel so good, then a couple of days later you get a call from the town that your flag has been vandalised.
It makes me feel awful, but having said that I’m hoping this is an isolated incident.
The saddest part of all this is that the vandalism totally worked: After hearing about the vandalism, all of Amherst’s gay population reportedly turned straight.
- Gay pride flag slashed [Chronicle Herald]
A human rights complaint has been filed against the Capital district health authority for insensitive comments made toward a gay patient and his husband.
The complainant says that a cardiovascular unit nurse repeatedly referred to his husband as a “friend,” despite multiple corrections, and another in the neurological unit said that the patient shouldn’t mind joining a room with three female patients because he’s a gay male.
While I’ll agree the comments are insensitive, from what I understand about the complaint, the Human Rights Commission likely won’t hear this case—and rightfully so.
Insensitive comments are always unfortunate, especially when combined with an exasperating hospital stay, but if a human rights settlement were awarded for every gay partner called a “friend” or “roommate” instead of “boyfriend” or “husband,” each city’s gay village would be situated atop a scenic hill with swans.
The Human Rights Commission has an important role in assuring equal employment, housing, and services for gay people, and the criminal code protects against genuine hate speech, but this situation falls under neither umbrella. Since the HRC has traditionally been an important ally in protecting the rights of gay people across Canada, anti-gay groups have been pushing to limit its powers. Frivolous filings, even if they aren’t ultimately heard by the HRC, can only lend support to that movement.
So, in this situation, me and my “roommate” suggest a phone call with the health authority and an open letter in the paper. It can do more than you’d think.
- Gay couple files rights complaint [Chronicle Herald]
In my web travels I often collect stories that I intend to share, but then become distracted by newer, shinier stories—or feel too lazy to illustrate them. This is what becomes of those stories: A Pile o’ Sla… Hugs?
The Town of Truro, Nova Scotia—which made national news last year after some bizarre homophobic comments by its mayor—has finally reached an agreement with a local gay rights group, amending its employment equity policy to include sexual orientation. A strange outcome, considering the dispute was over a flag-flying policy.
For the first time ever, Canada’s Armed Forces marched in Toronto’s Gay Pride parade, promoting equal rights and openly recruiting gay servicemen and women. This is in stark contrast to the policies of the United States. I’d ask if you’d like me to describe them, but I’m afraid I can’t tell.
A nation-wide poll shows that support for same-sex marriage in Canada has climbed to 68%. Recent converts cited a lack of family-destroying meteor showers for their change in opinion.
The top leader of Canada’s Anglican Church is standing up for gay-friendly denominations in the country, saying that ultra-conservative factions are obsessing over the wrong issues. Primate Fred Hiltz said it’s unfortunate that some Christians are “preoccupied with sexual acts between homosexuals and falsely equate homosexuality with promiscuity,” adding that they’d gain more credibility on sexual issues if they devoted the same energy to “combating sexual abuse, sexual exploitation by people in positions of power, and global sex slavery.” Hmm… Combating something that everyone agrees needs combating; what a novel concept!
Same-sex marriages skyrocketed last month, as gay couples plan their weddings around Pride celebrations. Because if it weren’t for that, no one would want a June wedding.
Well, have a great weekend kiddos, and Happy Independance Day to all my Stateside visitors. May it be nothing like the movie.
Nova Scotia’s Pictou County Council is afraid. They’ve got a flag pole outside their administrative building and it’s causing grave concern for councilors. County Warden Allister MacDonald explains:
If the gay community came and said “fly my flag,” we, under human rights, would have to fly everybody’s flag. It could be the Nazi party or the bikers; it could be anyone. And, from what our understanding is, you either fly everybody’s flag […] or you put a policy in that says “these are the flags we’re going to fly.”
Now, no gay rights group has actually asked the folks at Pictou County to fly the rainbow stripes. Nevertheless, the council has found itself amidst a lengthy and controversial flag banning discussion. Apparently, if a gay rights group ever were to request raising a flag on their pole, the Nazi party wouldn’t be far behind—or, at least, that’s what their understanding is.
Frankly, I don’t think their understanding is very understandable.
In the event that a totalitarian political party from wartime Germany requested to fly their flag in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, there would be no problems refusing their request—what with the unforgivable crimes against humanity and all. But I don’t think the councilors in Pictou were afraid of Nazi flag requests in the first place. They’re afraid of contention.
You see, if a gay rights group were to request that a rainbow flag fly on the administration building’s pole, there would be dissenters in the council—just like there were in Truro. To justify a “no” vote, these dissenters must explain their discomfort with gay people. Unlike explaining one’s rationale against requests from totalitarian regimes of the Third Reich, however, explaining discomfort with gay people would be met with criticism. Rather than face such criticism—or, better yet, the roots of their discomfort—the councilors would rather ban flag-flying requests altogether.
It’s not a particularly honorable stance—and particularly when no flag requests have been made in the first place. As Councilor David Parker put it:
Other municipalities fly these flags routinely of various groups to support their cause and their beliefs and I don’t have a problem with that. We’ve had no policy for 128 years. We’ve had no problem until it became a problem in one person’s mind.
Well said, David.
- Questions raised as Pictou County mulls flag rules [CBC News]
- Homophobia behind flag policy—councillor [Chronicle Herald]
The town of Truro, Nova Scotia, has backed out of an agreement to fly an AIDS awareness flag on World AIDS Day later this month.
Truro, in case you forgot, is the town that refused to fly a Pride flag in August. The Mayor rationalized that decision with his famous press announcement: “If I have a group of people that says pedophiles should have rights, do we raise their flag too?”
Unlike the Pride flag fiasco, the town previously agreed to fly the AIDS-awareness flag, but is now backing down. The town says their newly-formed policy to fly government flags only supersedes any existing agreements.
No flags for anyone. Yeah, that ought to solve the issue.
- Town won’t fly AIDS flag [Truro Daily News]
Slap reader Sheena writes in with a gem from out East:
A columnist from the Chronicle Herald, Peter Duffy, wrote [an article] about a speaker’s panel of gay and transgender youth at a sex-ed conference hosted by the Pictou Children’s Aid and the Pictou Sexual Health Centre, formerly Planned Parenthood.
Not only did the speakers not know the media would be present, but they asked Duffy not to include their pictures or names—which he did. As a result, Duffy’s article outed one of these youth to his entire town.
Ah, how editorialists love to flaunt their ignorance. If only Petey were the exception, not the norm!
The Chronicle Herald, sadly, doesn’t have an online copy of this masterwork for posterity, which is too bad. Petey starts off with some comedic preamble about not knowing which pronouns to use to describe transgendered people, and then describes, in great detail, his personal anguish experienced during the talk. He describes gender transitions as “mutilation” and “the stuff of nightmares,” and peppers the article with delightful interjections such as: “[this] makes me queasy,” “I’m still squirming,” “I feel positively ill,” and finally “I feel really sad for many of today’s young people.”
But really, most of what you need to know about Petey’s position is from his first statement: “I’m mistaken. Or am I? One thing’s for sure, I’m definitely confused.”
Honestly, I don’t really understand cross-gender identify either. But passing judgment over something I admit I don’t understand would be foolish. These speakers were courageous enough to share their experiences, and when they say they’re happier having gone through those experiences, who would I be to question their feelings?
But then, sensitivity, self-education, and exploring other viewpoints aren’t really prerequisites to being a journalist, are they?
Still on the road, kids! But here are some stories and updates that caught my eye:
Two high school students in Nova Scotia have turned their school into a sea of pink in support of a first-year student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Hmm… I wonder if they’ll do anything about Nova Scotia’s other bully problem.
Speaking of Nova Scotia, a lesbian woman is suing the province for refusing to recognize her parental status of her partner’s newborn. Jamie O’Neill was told that she must adopt her son, born through invitro infertilization, because only one woman can be listed on the birth certificate. Luckily, after legal threat, the province seems to have re-considered.
Zesty’s, the Vancouver comedy club in which a comedian exploded into an anti-lesbian tirade, has been renamed. While owners say the name change has been underway for some time, it’s not a bad strategy! Michael Richards should take note.
Finally, an Australian lesbian couple is suing their fertilization clinic after they gave birth to twins instead of just a single child. Let that be a lesson to doctors: Don’t do your job too well!
Until Wednesday, kids!
Hey, kids! Well, I’ve successfully defended my master’s thesis, and now it’s time to head even further west to see family. While on the road, here are some stories and updates that caught my eye:
The town of Truro, Nova Scotia, has adopted an official flag-flying policy to avoid any more situations like this summer’s Pride flag fiasco, in which the mayor compared gays to pedophiles. The new policy is straightforward, too: From now on, government flags only.
Statistics from the 2006 national census are in, and when it comes to the same-sex figures, things are clearly up for interpretation:
- 30 percent rise in same-sex couples: census [Xtra]
- Canada has only a sprinkling of gay couples: census [Reuters]
Speaking of census data, a Calgary SUN article has asserted: “Calgary is holding the fort in a country where the notion of the traditional family is increasingly under siege, states a federal census.” Really? The federal census states the traditional family is under siege? Or perhaps this is just a little bit of phrasing bias coming from Alberta’s gayest city.
With all the attention Alvaro Orozco has been getting, there’s a great article in NOW magazine reminding us that this is not an isolated case. Leonardo Zuniga, another gay refugee, is slated for deportation within the next few weeks. Why not take a couple minutes to help him out?
Until Friday, kids!
A human rights complaint has been filed against the town of Truro for refusing to fly a gay Pride flag, while accommodating other organisations’ flag-flying requests.
Although the town’s decision to pass on the Pride flag inherently raised suspicions of homophobia, Truro mayor Bill Mills removed all doubt when he delivered this gem to the media: “If I have a group of people that says pedophiles should have rights, do we raise their flag too?”
Now, I’ve written about why the mayor’s understanding of the Pride flag is deeply flawed, but I have to say I’m a little concerned that a human rights complaint—filed over what basically amounts to a rude dismissal—would turn him into a martyr of sorts. (I can see the “pro-family” headlines spinning now: “Glorious Mayor Mills Tortured and Fed to Eels By Homosexual Secularists For Bravely Defending Religious Freedoms.”)
Truro Pride, the group that filed the complaint, said the town did not contact them to resolve the matter privately, and the complaint was necessary to kick-start discussion and draft an official policy for flag raising—a valid strategy when dealing with stubborn and wrong policy-makers. Let’s just hope the concerns are resolved quickly and civilly.
- Rainbow flag snub sparks human rights complaint [CBC News]
- Gay-pride group files complaint over Truro flag flap [Chronicle Herald]
Sharon Laura Farrell of Nova Scotia was baffled by the abusive, homophobic telephone calls she received this week. That is, until she discovered that she had the same name as a Truro woman who organized a gay rights rally on Monday. The rally was held in protest of Mayor Bill Wills’ comparison of gays to pedophiles after the town voted to not fly a gay pride flag at city hall.
Sharon Laura Farrell, who had no knowledge of the rally or the flag dispute, was shocked at what she heard:
It really doesn’t matter who they were intended for. No one should ever have to deal with the phone calls I got today. I certainly didn’t appreciate the very negative tone of those calls.
When I told [a particular caller] she had the wrong person, it didn’t seem to matter. It was an exasperating phone call because I don’t tolerate people yelling at me on the phone. I finally told her she had the wrong person and hung up.
Eventually, Ms. Farrell became so fed up with the abuse that she contacted Sharon Farrell, the rally organizer, and became involved in gay rights.
I was very impressed with [the organizer]. She is very sincere and she was aghast that anyone would go to such great lengths to get a phone number or to make phone calls like that. I was impressed by her stand. It got me involved.
Good for you, Sharon and Sharon!
Flashback: The year is 1989 and—oh, wait, no. I misread something. Let’s try this again.
August, 2007: The town council of Truro, Nova Scotia (population 11,700) has voted 6-1 against raising a Pride flag at city hall during the city’s gay pride week. The mayor, Bill Mills, decides to let his words speak louder than actions:
If I have a group of people that says pedophiles should have rights, do we raise their flag too? I don’t want to lump them in with homosexuals, but that’s the point—the issues—and that’s my feeling.
Gays and lesbians already have equal opportunities and work and pension benefits; I wonder what else they’re fighting for.
So, what else are gay people fighting for? Freedom from being publicly compared to pedophiles by ignorant mayors is a good start. I am not a criminal.
You see, the folks running Truro are unusually slow at understanding the Pride flag. Bill Mills considers it a display of arrogance—a means to “flaunt a lifestyle” to those who don’t care to see it. He’s the type of person who emails me now and then to ask why gays are so insistent on visibility when there isn’t a straight pride flag or straight pride parade.
My take is simple: Pride flags exists because pride is the opposite of shame, which is precisely how people like Mills would have us gays feel. The “lifestyle” I’m supposedly flaunting is, in reality, no different from anyone else’s, but there’s a lot I’ve had to put up with. Pride is a fitting symbol: I am proud of having overcome the misinformation I was fed over the years about gay people; I’m proud of overcoming the personal struggle to accept who I am; and I’m especially proud of how I continue to overcome ignorant policy-makers, lobbyists, journalists, individuals, and churches who don’t hesitate to attack me at every opportunity.
Raising the Pride flag is not an “endorsement” of any particular lifestyle—and certainly not the lifestyle that Mayor Mills has chosen to assign to all of a diverse group. Rather, it’s a gesture of dignity and recognition of a minority’s struggle that, if refused in this manner, re-enforces the purpose of why that symbol exists. Mayor Mills may not care to see the Pride flag one week a year, but I have to put up with discriminatory nonsense all the time.
Incidentally, municipal proclamations such as flag raising are generally considered a public service of city hall.
A tip o’ the hat to Devin Maxwell, who grew up in Truro.
- N.S. town council votes against raising pride flag [CTV News]
- Truro in gay flag flap [CBC News]
- Truro mayor: It’s not OK to be gay [Chronicle Herald]
Less than one year after the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union scolded the Halifax Regional School Board for asking teachers if they’re gay, the union is doing the exact same thing.
Now, before you all exclaim something like “Gee whiz, talk about the pot calling the kettle tacky and unfit to grace any self-respecting gay man’s kitchen!” this survey is different. As union president, Mary-Lou Donnelly, put it:
[The survey is] more to gather information on perceptions, on resources that are available in the schools, on what we can identify in our schools that help our educators or our students or that are lacking in our schools. It’s not about identification of individuals at all.
Well, I gotta admit, this is a far better approach than the Halifax School Board’s mandatory and personally-identifiable survey. That survey was an ill-advised attempt at appearing concerned for gay staff after being fined for an appalling, gay-related human rights violation. But, still, after that fiasco, what kind of responses are they expecting, precisely? “Yeah, I can be fired based on my sexual orientation and wrongfully investigated for child molestation, but hey—the coffee here is not too shabby!”
- Teachers union conducting blind sexual orientation survey [Chronicle Herald]
An anti-gay archbishop? Unthinkable! Well, OK, maybe not.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of the Halifax archdiocese has demanded that his priests refuse holy communion to Daniel Poirier and Jack Murphy, an elderly gay couple.
The unexpected and swift punishment came after the two 69-year-olds published their wedding announcement in a local newspaper. The couple, who have been Roman Catholic their entire lives, were completely shocked.
“It really was a blow,” said Daniel. “When we went to church there, it was like going into a warehouse; it was cold, because when everybody got up to receive communion, we had to sit down. I was almost in tears and my heart was broken.”
The church also removed Daniel from his position as choir director.
Ah, isn’t the Catholic Church enlightened? It’s such a simple idea: Judge others harshly in front of friends and community by exploiting the Holy Sacrament! After all, gay sinners are, like, 50 cagillion times worse than straight sinners. That’s the Church’s motto, right?
Well, until Monday, folks! Have a great weeken—oh, wait, no. There was some other recent news I was supposed to remember to tell you guys about today… What was it? Something about a vote—a defeated motion, maybe? I think it might have involved a 52-vote margin. Oh well, I’m sure it was nothing newsworthy.
Have a good one!
Well, I guess this is what you get for forming a close-knit and compassionate community. A telephone scam artist has decided to target the Nova Scotia gay community in hopes of getting some of their sweet, sweet… well, money! Disgustingly, he claims to be the victim of a horrible hate crime, weaving a fascinating tale of having been beaten, robbed, and in desperate need of cash.
What’s sadder, the scam has been working. Kevin Kindred, a community figure, said the con takes advantage of how the community protects its own.
The reason why someone can pull a scam like this is because the community is so tight and really does look out for one another. It’s unfortunate someone took advantage of it.
Luckily, Jim Bain, one of the prominent community publishers that the scammer has been impersonating, has a sense of humour about all this weirdness.
Last night, according to people I talked to, I was in Hamilton, Niagara Falls and Toronto. All three places, I got beat up. It’s been a horrible vacation. (laughs)
As for all the gay Nova Scotians out there—always remember this moral: Uh, don’t help anyone. Is that right?
Well, I’m out of town for today, folks! But, never fear! I’ve prepared a special out-of-town update to let you know how some of those crazy anti-gay characters I’ve been telling you about are getting along!
Super crazy prime minister extrodinare, Stephen Harper, sent out a notice to his caucus last week, informing MPs that they are not to comment on the two gay mounties that are marrying this month. While Conservative MPs had no comment (duh), Liberal MP Scott Brison put it best: “If [Stephen Harper] doesn’t trust his caucus to be socially progressive, then why should Canadians trust his party to be socially progressive?” Sing it, bro!
The former principal found to have violated human rights codes for assuming a gay teacher was molesting students has been reassigned by the Halifax Regional School Board. And what, you may ask, is the job he’s being forced to give up? Why, director of human rights policies, of course! A job that he held for over a year even though the human rights violation occurred 6 years ago! Compounded with the bizarre survey asking gay teachers to identify themselves, the board doesn’t seem to be particularly big on diversity…
And that, my scrumptious little readers, is the out-of-town update!
Oh, goody! The Halifax Regional School Board (yes, the same one that was punished by the Human Rights Commission for assuming their gay teachers were molesting students) will now be sending out a lovely batch of surveys! The surveys, which each teacher will be required to fill out and sign tomorrow, includes the age-old question: “Are you heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian?” You know, because that would shed so much light on how well someone can teach long division…
While the school board was quick to note that they won’t be penalizing teachers for unanswered questions (gee, how nice of them!), the Nova Scotia Teachers Union is unimpressed. President Mary-Lou Donnelly isn’t quite sure what to recommend to union members, claiming that the board soundly rejected her suggestion of making the surveys anonymous.
The board will probably be more subtle next year (“Which of the following sexes would you most like to marry?”), but, in the meantime, I suggest that the current wording leaves only one answer…
Q: Are you heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian?
- ‘Are you gay?’ school board asks teachers [CBC News]
Lindsay Willow is a gym teacher. She is also a lesbian. One fine September, Ms. Willow was busy organizing an equipment storage room with a student helper. After the room was all tidy, they both washed their hands and stepped into the hallway. The end.
Oh, wait, no; I forgot to mention—one more thing happened. A minor detail, really. You see, at that moment, a fellow teacher saw the two leaving the locker room and, because Ms. Willow is gay, presumed her to be a child molester! He then presented outlandish allegations to his colleagues, the principal, and, of course, the police. The former two believed the loony yarn without any evidence whatsoever, and Ms. Willow was severely disciplined.
Sound unbelievable? Well, it happened! The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission announced last week that Ms. Willow was falsely accused of molestation based solely on her sexual orientation. The tribunal then ordered the Halifax Regional School Board to deliver a full written apology and monetary compensation for their prejudiced nonsense. Because, you know, there’s no heartfelt apology quite like a court-ordered heartfelt apology.
As for the moral of the story, let this be a lesson to all the gays out there: Never wash your hands.