Queer Vote Ontario debate promotes discussion of issues facing marginalized communities

  • Updated the list of participants as of May 24 at 5:30 pm

ONTARIO – Issues facing the Queer community in the Ontario election will be the focus of a debate being hosted on May 26.

Queer Vote Ontario is a nonpartisan campaign created by Queer organizations across the province.

“Some of us are local organizations like Stratford-Perth Pride,” said Marketing Coordinator for Queer Vote Ontario AJ Adams. “Some of us are national organizations like the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.”

About ten organizations came together in the lead-up to the election. They asked what’s happening for the Queer community and other marginalized communities often overlooked or relegated to being a footnote in election platforms.

“We wanted to unify our voices and make sure that we’re talked about this election,” said Adams. “Countless organizations have joined us along the way.”

He said many different voices at the table helped steer the conversation.

“It is a unique debate,” said Adams. “The focus is issues facing 2SLGBTQI+ folks. We are using this as a platform for those from other equity-deserving communities or marginalized communities for their voices to be heard, whether that’s the Black community, the Indigenous community, Disability community.”

“It is a unique debate. The focus is issues facing 2SLGBTQI+ folks. We are using this as a platform for those from other equity-deserving communities or marginalized communities for their voices to be heard, whether that’s the Black community, the Indigenous community, Disability community,” said Marketing Coordinator for Queer Vote Ontario AJ Adams. (Colin Burrowes Photo)

The debate is being developed to allow many different communities to ask the political parties questions.

“This is probably the first time a debate of this size has ever been done on this topic,” he said. “it’s being co-moderated by Geri Atrick, a drag queen from North Bay and Martha Chaves, the award-winning comedian and actress.”

The Queer Vote campaign has three main calls to action for all the political parties.

“So, the first is creating a provincial 2SLGBTQI+ secretariat,” said Adams. “People within cabinet that look at Queer issues as well as creating a provincial 2SLGBTQI+ action plans so having to dedicate a team within the government who will implement a plan to properly support Queer folks because right now there is no plan, it’s kind of like the Minister of Education will figure out how the education portfolio impacts Queer people, same with health, same with housing, every Minister has Queer people as kind of a footnote as a group of people to support.”

The second call to action is expanding coverage of and access to gender-affirming healthcare, including physical and psychological support for someone to be recognized and affirmed in their gender. It also includes hormone therapy, better access to top and bottom surgery, and ensuring that healthcare professionals know how to interact with someone who might use different pronouns than their sex assigned at birth.

“So how to navigate diversity from a healthcare perspective,” said Adams.

The third call to action is for stable and ongoing funding from the Government of Ontario.

“We are asking for a commitment of $25 million annual funding to support various 2SLGBTQI+ services across the province,” he said. “That is for anything from supporting peer-to-peer support, Pride centres and Pride parades to anything that will benefit the mental health and well-being of Queer people in Ontario. So those are our calls to action, but we obviously want more than just those three.”

Adams said some of the parties have already made commitments that impact the Queer community positively.

“We’re quite excited about that,” he said.

Parties that have a candidate in the majority of the ridings in the province were invited to the debate.

“We are waiting on Doug Ford’s team, who have been silent,” said Adams. “We are not surprised that the Conservatives have not responded to us.”

The following candidates are participating: Green Party of Ontario candidate for Nippising, Sean McClocklin, Ontario Liberal Party candidate for Willowdale, Paul Saguil, NDP candidate for Toronto Centre, Kristyn Wong-Tam, and None of the Above Party candidate for Mississauga-Streetsville Greg Vezina.

The New Blue Party and the Ontario Party were invited as they meet the threshold for requirements to participate but had not responded to requests.

“We are very fortunate to have Pride Toronto part of the organizing team for the debate,” said Adams. “We’re holding it at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.”

People can attend in person if they want to, but the debate will be live streaming through Pride Toronto’s Twitch account, and it will be shared on Queervote.ca/debate and promoted through all the Queer Vote Ontario member’s social media accounts.

“Get out to vote, participate and make sure that the Queer agenda is thought of and respected this election,” said Adams.

On Monday, May 23, Queer Vote Ontario will be releasing a report card rating all of the parties’ commitments to support the 2SLGBTQI+ community.

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