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May 16, 2017

On 17 May 1990, the General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders.

In commemoration of that decision, May 17 is recognized as the “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia” – a day of action, awareness and affirmation of the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified and Queer-identified (LGBTQ) people.

The Labour movement joins the LGBTQ community and allies in fighting for equality and celebrating the contributions made by LGBTQ people to our workplaces and our society.

In Canada, after decades of political and legal battles, LGBTQ workers and their families have won important protection against discrimination in human rights law and legal recognition of same-sex couples and equal marriage. The Canadian trade union movement has been a strong and solid supporter of the LGBTQ community struggle for equality.

Despite these important victories, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans members of our communities still face the reality of homophobia and transphobia in their daily lives. Gay and trans bashing is still a frequent occurrence, and trans people have yet to win clear protection in Canadian human rights law.

For over five decades, LGBTQ activists and the labour movement have built a worldwide relationship based on shared struggles, similar goals, and common values.

Getting and keeping a good job; safe, respectful workplaces and communities; health benefits for us and our loved ones…these are all LGBTQ issues and we need strong labour unions to get them.

Common struggles experienced by LGBTQ communities today include high rates of poverty, a lack of access to affordable housing, discrimination on the job, a lack of inclusion in communities, and systemic negligence by governments and social services that fail to meet the needs of people with alternative sexual identities.

For the first time in over 20 years, the Ontario government has opened up the laws pertaining to employment standards and labour relations across the province. In doing so, it has given hope to many marginalized workers in Ontario, who understand that better employment standards and easier access to union membership can be a pathway out of poverty. Through unions, working people are able to join together to win better wages, benefits and a voice on the job

The OFL will continue to work with the Canadian Labour Congress, affiliates and community partners to fight for fairness and equality for LGBTQ people in every workplace and every community, as well as full legal rights for trans people under Canada’s Criminal Code and Human Rights Act.

Join the campaign to change Ontario’s outdated employment laws to help raise the bar for all working people in Ontario, including LBGTQ workers. Find out more at

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  • Homophobia
  • International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia