Ryan Clayton, a leading local advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, welcomes Sidney’s decision to recognize Pride Week in 2020 (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Local LGBTQ+ advocate welcomes Sidney’s decision to recognize Pride Week

Sidney announced its decision in the Town’s updated strategic plan

A leading local advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community welcomes Sidney’s decision to recognize Pride Week in 2020.

Ryan Clayton, who has advised the City of Vancouver and the District of Saanich on issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community, calls Sidney’s decision “wonderful news” that highlights the role of municipalities in leading on such issues.

“I work in Sidney and live in Saanich and both communities have done a lot in the last couple years to include and recognize LGBTQ+ folks and it’s really heartwarming to see,” he said.

RELATED: Sidney to recognize Pride Week in 2020

This said, he also acknowledged that more work remains ahead. “It’s amazing that 50 years after [the Stonewall Riots in New York City], we still have places that don’t set aside time to acknowledge the contributions of LGBTQ+ folks to their communities,” he said.

Details of Sidney’s decision to recognize Pride Week remain sparse. The announcement itself appears in Sidney’s updated strategic plan approved by council.

Sidney’s recognition of Pride Week happens against the backdrop of passed and attempted policy measures to roll back the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community in parts of Canada, the United States, and elsewhere in the western world.

Ontario recently experienced a Kulturkampf over its province’s sex-education curriculum during which the Conservative government of Doug Ford replaced key aspects of the previous curriculum with what critics decried as an outdated and homophobic lesson plan. The Ford government has since changed course, but criticism remains high.

The federal government in the United States as well as several states have also passed measures which critics claim discriminate against members of LGBTQ+ community. For example, the United States government has banned trans-gendered individuals from serving in the military, justifying the ban on cost grounds. Washington has also rolled back a number of Obama-era initiatives.

A number of states — which almost exclusively voted for current President Donald J. Trump in 2016 — have also passed measures deemed to be discriminatory against the LGBTQ+ community, with many of those laws justified on the basis of religious freedom.

But Clayton also pointed out that B.C.’s provincial government will no longer pursue legislation banning conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is the controversial, long-discredited theory that spiritual or psychological measures can convert homosexual or bisexual individuals towards heterosexuality.

Once again, it is up to municipalities like Vancouver to step in, while the provincial and federal government dithers, he said.


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