WorldPride 2014 Tackles Homophobia in Toronto
Four hundred delegates with 180 speakers from more than 50 countries are flocking to Toronto for WorldPride, a 10-day festival taking place June 20-29.
The delegates, from countries as far as Russia, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be part of the WorldPride Human Rights Conference from June 25-27. The conference is featuring issues from “activism, refugees, families and resurgent efforts to repress burgeoning LGBT rights movement.”
According to Brenda Cossman, the director of the University of Toronto’s Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, a co-sponsor of the event, the conference has already been sold out for weeks.
The conference is set in the middle of the joyous celebration of Pride as a reminder that the struggle for LGBT acceptance is still an issue.
“It’s important now because so much has happened in the past couple of years,” Jay Katz, LGBT Giving co-chair said. “We’ve had the [anti-gay] laws in Uganda, we’ve had gay marriage on the agenda in the United States, we’ve had the [anti-gay] laws in Russia.”
Eleven countries can still sentence homosexuals to the death penalty.
“Acceptance is a long, long ways away in many countries where pride parades and marches aren’t even considered,” Pride Toronto co-chair Sean Hillier said. “A very large aspect of this festival will revolve around human rights, and we will continue to see that moving forward.”
Even with the reputation as an LGBT progressive country, Canada still has its problems with acceptance.
“I remember in Kitchener, [Ontario] there was an episode where two women kissed and they were thrown out of a restaurant,” a WorldPride attendee said.
WorldPride 2014 kicked off last Friday with a rainbow flag raising ceremony at Toronto’s city hall. Both the flag creator himself, Gilbert Baker and the first openly gay premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, were in attendance.