In Canada, May 25, 1995 is a significant day in the history of human rights. It was on this day that sexual orientation was officially included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This change was a long-awaited victory for the Gender, Sexual and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) community, who had been fighting for their rights to be recognized and protected under the law for decades.
Prior to this amendment, discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation was not explicitly prohibited under the Charter. This meant that GSRD Canadians could be denied employment, housing, and other basic rights without any legal recourse. The inclusion of sexual orientation in the Charter was a major step towards ensuring that all Canadians are treated equally and have the same fundamental rights.
The fight for this inclusion was not an easy one. It took years of advocacy and activism from GSRD organizations and allies to bring this issue to the forefront of public discourse. One of the most significant moments in this fight was the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids, which saw police officers raiding multiple gay bathhouses and arresting over 300 people. This event galvanized the GSRD community and sparked a larger conversation about discrimination and the need for legal protections.
The inclusion of sexual orientation in the Charter was a crucial victory for human rights in Canada, but the fight for equality is far from over. Discrimination and violence against GSRD individuals still occur, and there are ongoing efforts to further protect their rights. However, May 25, 1995 serves as a reminder of how far we have come, and the importance of continued advocacy and activism to ensure that all Canadians are treated with dignity and respect.