The Evolution of Gay Rights in Montreal

The Evolution of Gay Rights in Montreal

Philippe Lavigne-Labelle


Homosexuality has always existed and fascinated, and it has often been severely punished throughout the Western world's History. It was originally considered a sin in most civilizations and societies, but not all. Some believed homosexuals had magic powers and gave them the status of shaman. In the Ancient Greece, homosexuality was considered normal. In other societies, it was accepted for certain groups like artists and sailors or members of royal courts. Under the influence of the Christian church, though, homosexuality was and remained punishable by death for centuries.

The last Christian execution happened in Amsterdam in 1730. In the 19th century, the medical definition replaced the religious one. The Austro-Hungarian doctor and sexologist K.M. Benkert created the term "homosexual" in 1869. Later on, in 1897, a certain Dr Hirschfeld from Berlin tried to decriminalize homosexuality. In 1920, thanks to the achievements of his Institute of Sexual Science, the perception of homosexuality as a simple sexual variation gained popularity worldwide. Unfortunately, the Nazi party was elected a few years later. Soon after, the Nazi commanders ordered that all the Institute's books be burned. Then, the party committed the worst act against homosexuals in Western History: they killed between 100,000 and 400,000 of them... In 1948, an event changed the perception of homosexuals forever and paved the way to the emergence of the gay community and liberation.

The publication of the American biologist Alfred Kinsey' survey on male sexual activity revealed that 37% of men had had an orgasm with another man at least once in their lifetime. Homosexuals now knew that they formed a large number of the population. Nevertheless, they still need to fight for their rights today. This research paper will address the issue of homosexuality and homophobia in Quebec in order to promote diversity and real acceptance, and to support gay people who represent around 10% of the population and deserve equality. It will consist of three main sections: the history of homosexuality, the current situation and some solutions to improve the situation. It will be based on the following thesis: in Quebec, before 1969, homosexuality was a crime, an illness and a sin. Over the last 40 years, homosexuals have won important battles in courts and gained legal equality. Today's objective is to reach social equality by eliminating homophobia and promoting diversity within the different spheres and groups of our society.



History of homosexuality and evolution of gay rights in Quebec


Note: Most of the information for the period from 1880 to 1977 comes from Ross Higgins' book De la clandestinité à l'affirmation - Pour une histoire de la communauté gaie de Montréal.


At the end of the 19th century, a gay life already exists in Montreal. It is completely secret since homosexuality is illegal, but the testimonies, newspaper articles and judicial archives gathered by Ross Higgins prove its existence. In 1880, there are "gathering places" for homosexuals. One of them is the Champ-de-Mars, located directly behind Montreal city hall. Homosexuals go there to walk at night, meet other men and have sexual relations. Another major meeting place is the park on Sainte-Hélène island. In 1891, two boys are arrested in that park for "gross indecency", the most frequently used law against homosexuals, and sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment. According to an article on the Red Light area in Montreal, homosexuals also meet in brothels. The Mount-Royal, which will be the target of several raids in the 20th century, is another key place. Since most of the information for that period is of that nature, little is known on other aspects of homosexuality until the 1930.


In the 20th century, slowly, new voices are heard in the press and on the radio. People other than the Canadian elite (doctors and priests) can express themselves. After World War II, newspapers start covering homosexuality-related topics. In 1945, they cover the murder of a little boy, Johnny Benson, allegedly committed by an homosexual. The police decide to arrest 150 suspects, all homosexuals. Journalists follow the investigation and describe homosexuals as rapists and monsters. The Journal de Montréal writes that police authorities gave their officers the order to watch homosexuals who hang around the Mount-Royal... In other articles, homosexuals are also often pictured as transvestites and effeminates.

The tabloids offer the same kind of coverage, but are much more interested in homosexuality. It's one of their favorite subjects. Gays are often referred to as the "third sex" and "little males" or "little men". The good news is that society talks about homosexuality, even if it is in a very negative way. It remains a taboo, but it's a reality. The first positive articles on homosexuality are published in the 60s. In 1964, Sidney Katz defies traditional opinions on homosexuality in the Maclean's Magazine. A few years later, the Sept Jours magazine pleads for tolerance.

The real support for gay people comes from literature, cinema and theatre. In the 20th century, the culture presents a positive image of homosexuality and is a plea for tolerance and a refuge for homosexuals. French writers openly defend different sexual behaviors as early as 1840. The French literary world, especially the famous French homosexual author Marcel Proust, influences Montreal. In 1944, the first Quebec novel to address homosexuality (Orage sur mon corps by André Béland) is published. The first play on homosexuality, Les innocentes, sees the day in 1949. Then, a few years later, La cathédrale by Jean Desprez presents a gay character. Les cyniques, a satirical comedian group, denounces society's hypocrisy towards homosexuality. But the most important author is Michel Tremblay. He will contribute to the affirmation of gays in literature and change the Quebec literary world. In Quebec, the first movies to talk about homosexuality are À tout prendre by Claude Jutras and Délivrez-nous du mal by Jean Claude Lord, which tells a love story between two men that turns into a murder. All those cultural products will help homosexuals develop a sense of belonging and identity and will contribute to their liberation.



Creation of a gay community


Commercial institutions like bars and restaurants are essential to the creation of a gay community. They slowly increase after World War II and allow homosexuals to gather, discuss and realize that they are not alone. Before 1960, the existence of such places is mostly communicated through word of mouth. Between 1938 and 1948, the Lovell's City Directory reveals the existence of the Eagle Restaurant, the future Monarch, on Ste-Catherine Street. The tabloids often talk about gay places and provide an access to the underground gay world. In 1964, the International Guild Guide, a tourist guide, enumerates eight bars and restaurants for gays, and up to thirteen in 1966. A few years later, in 1970, the local gay publications make their own lists of gay places. The first publication is Le Tiers, the ancestor of the very popular Fugues magazine. Those magazines provide information on various events relevant to the gay community and contribute to the gay life's expansion.



Gay movement and liberation


The first gay movements in Quebec and Canada are inspired by a global and dynamic trend. A gay movement sees the day in Germany as early as 1920. In the USA, the first movement is created in California, in 1950. Its purpose is to fight discrimination and police brutality, educate and collaborate with doctors and psychologists. In France, there's the Arcadie movement, similar to the American's. In Canada, one of the first homophile organizations is the Association for Social Knowledge, from Vancouver. In Quebec, Paul Bédard creates the first homophile group, in 1967 or 1968, called, probably, International Sex Equality Anonymous (ISEA). It gives homosexuals a dining room, a bar and a meeting room.

In 1969, the Weekend Magazine states that the ISEA has more than 4000 members. The same year, Prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau passes the Omnibus bill, which decriminalizes sexual relations in private between two consenting adults of the same sex. He also declares that what happens in people's bedrooms is not of the government's business, a statement that will become famous. The adoption of that bill coincides with the Stonewall events in the United States. In Quebec, the counter-cultural magazine Mainmise informs homosexuals of the gay liberation. On March 26, 1971, people in charge of that magazine found the Front the libération homosexuel (FLH), a group inspired by the Quebec nationalist group Front de libération du Québec. The FLH lasts 15 months during which it organizes meetings and events where gays can discuss their condition. A major police operation causes the FLH's dissolution.

In 1972, an anglophone group - Gay McGill - takes over. Created by McGill University members, it organizes dances for gays as a mean of financial support. It creates a help line and puts the emphasis on services to the gay community. It opens the Drop-in gai, a place for homosexuals. Some of the individuals who meet there decide to form a new group: Gay Montréal. It incorporates under the name of Gay Montreal Association. In 1975, it is dissolved after internal conflicts and the loss of its alcohol license. The same year, the Androgène bookstore is founded. It sells books on the gay liberation and feminism. It represents a good example of cooperation between gay men and women. Another organization, the Groupe homosexuel d'action politique, is created the same year after a major raid at the Aquarius, a gay sauna, where people are arrested for prostitution, a false accusation.

During the same period, several gay magazines and newspapers are developed (Gay Times, Gay-Zette, Le Gai Kébec...). Still in 1975, Miriam Boghen initiates the Gay Special Project, whose purpose is to provide homosexuals with an English helpline and consciousness raising activities. The French version, Gai écoute, will see the day in 1980. Those two organizations still exist today. In 1976, an important cleaning campaign is launched by the Montreal's mayor Jean Drapeau. It precedes the coming of the Olympics and it multiplies raids against gay institutions. The campaign generates anger among the gay community and the Comité homosexuel anti-répression is formed in response to it. According to Higgins, it marks the beginning of the gay liberation's modern period. Public assemblies are organized. They gather a large number of enthusiastic and angry people, and lead to the first major gay demonstration on June 19, 1976.

In October, the Comité homosexuel anti-répression creates the Association pour les droits des gai(e)s du Québec (ADGQ), whose purpose is to obtain legal rights, educate and offer a place for homosexuals. A few months later, a huge raid occurs at the Truxx bar. One hundred and fourty men are arrested for being in a "bordello" of for "gross indecency". On October 22, 1977, 2000 homosexuals demonstrate in Montreal. For the first time, newspaper columnists are in favor of homosexuals. A defense committee is created. Five years later, the 120 men involved in the committee will be freed of all accusations. At the end of the year, the ADGQ makes a recommendation to the Quebec Ministry of Justice to include "sexual orientation" in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Following the events of the Truxx bar raid, the Quebec government decides to act on that recommendation. On December 15, 1977, the Bill 88 is passed and the Quebec province becomes one of the first jurisdictions in the world to offer legal protection for homosexuals and forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. That is one of the first major victories that will pave the way to other legal victories in the 90s.


During the 80s, a new plague deeply affects the gay community: AIDS. That devastating disease, seen as the "gay cancer", puts one more burden on the shoulders of gays who consider doing their coming out. The gay community is the target of several political organizations that blame homosexuals for the disease. It fears major setbacks due to the epidemic.


For the gay and lesbian community, AIDS was not just the fear of contagion, which it was, nor the loss of friends and loved ones, which it was in abundance, but also the fear that all the recent political gains would be destroyed, it was the fear of a whole culture being destroyed (Ryan 17).


Surprisingly, those organizations don't have any serious consequences on the community's progress. Thousands of homosexuals die of AIDS though, and the governments are to blame. They keep this epidemic secret as long as it stays in the community. Consequently, gays are not well informed and do not use proper protection. Due to the epidemic, gay and lesbian organizations become HIV service organizations. They work hard to inform the community on that illness. Despite all their efforts, from the beginning of the epidemic to 1997, gay men represent 64% of all the HIV cases diagnosed. This percentage decreases progressively to 40% in 2001. Fortunately, new treatments are slowly developed in the 90s and improved at the beginning of the 20th century. HIV is now more a chronic disease, but still deadly for many.



Towards legal equality


The gay community experiences a very difficult period at the end of the 20th century because of the AIDS epidemic. But legally, it accumulates victories. In 1980, the Superior court of Quebec applies the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and rules that a school board cannot refuse to rent a room to an organization promoting the rights of homosexuals. In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms become part of the Constitution of Canada. Three years later, section 15 of the Charter comes into effect. Although it does not specifically include sexual orientation, it is worded to make sure that the guarantee of equality is open ended.


Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability (qtd. in Hurley 1).


Courts accept that section 15 is to be interpreted broadly. In 1995, in the Egan v. Canada case,  the Supreme Court of Canada confirms the view that sexual orientation  is an "analogous" ground, and consequently a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Charter. In 1996, "sexual orientation" is added to the prohibited grounds of discrimination. The same year, in the province of Quebec, section 137 of the Quebec Charter, which allowed the use of sexual orientation to make distinctions between individual for the purpose of various insurance and benefit plans, is repealed. In 1999, the Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning de facto spouses passes and gives same-sex spouses the same rights and privileges as opposite-sex spouses.

In 2002, the Act instituting civil unions and establishing new rules of filiation comes into effect and creates a new form of conjugal union, the "civil union". It allows two mothers or fathers to be entered on a child's birth certificate. The last and probably most important victory occurs in 2005 when the Canadian Parliament adopts the Civil marriage Act. It legalizes same-sex marriage. With the enactment of that bill, Canada becomes the fourth country in the World to authorize same-sex marriage. It represents the last step of a long process towards legal equality. That process itself results from a long battle led by homosexuals during the 20th century. A story of ordinary men and women who resisted and decided to proudly express their difference. A question must be asked though: does "legal equality" fully protect homosexuals against homophobia, prejudices and discrimination? In courts, yes. In everyday life, no.



Current situation of homosexuality and homophobia: Perception of the population - Revealing statistics and analysis


Note: All the information and data presented in this section come from 6 surveys conducted by the Léger Marketing Research firm based in Montreal between 2003 and 2009.


It is essential to present and analyze the population's perception in order to describe the current situation of homosexuality and homophobia. Some answers to the questions indicate that the situation is relatively good for homosexuals in this country. However, other answers show that Canadians and Quebecers are still uncomfortable with homosexuality. Generally, the most favorable groups to homosexuality are women, Quebecers, francophones and people with a higher income. The least favorable are men, anglophones, residents of the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) and people with a lower income. In the 2008 Canadian poll on the perceptions and opinions of Canadians regarding homosexuality, 70% of the respondents say they feel comfortable with homosexuality. 83% of Quebecers share that opinion. For that question, allophones are the least comfortable and francophones the most comfortable. Another good news is that 77% of Canadians (83% of Quebecers) believe that homosexuality is not an illness, and 76% of Canadians (80% of Quebecers), that it's not a mental disorder. Léger Marketing also conducted a survey in 2009 among cultural communities in Quebec.

The firm interviewed first and second generation immigrants and the results are very different from one generation to the other. There are two reasons for that. Second generation immigrants mainly come from Western Europe or the USA, whereas the first generation comes from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Also, a significant proportion of the second generation was born here and grew up in the Canadian culture. For example, 63% of first generation immigrants believe that homosexuality is a sexual orientation like any other; 26% think that it's either an illness or a deviation. But 86% of the second generation believes that homosexuality is a sexual orientation like any other.

Quebecers from cultural communities are not so favorable to same-sex marriage. Forty percent would like to abolish that right, which is a considerable percentage. When members of cultural communities are asked whether or not homosexuality is normal, 57% say yes and 38% say it's abnormal. Compared to the results from a question in the 2005 survey done by the same firm, those figures are encouraging. In fact, in the 2005 survey on perceptions and opinions of Canadians regarding homosexuality, 49% of Canadians say it's abnormal (38% in Quebec), which is very high. Even though the term "abnormal" is vague, usually, it has negative connotation and it shows how homosexuality causes discomfort. Another question from that survey proves the misconception of Canadians on sexual orientation. Only 40% of Canadians believe that a person cannot choose his/her sexual orientation. One Canadian out of four thinks it's possible to change a sexual orientation, which is false: it is not an option, it's an individual's fundamental nature.


One of the hardest places to express a "different" sexual orientation is the workplace. In a 2006 survey on homosexuality in the workplace, 61% of respondents (Canadians and Quebecers) claim that it's difficult to openly admit his or her homosexuality at work. Only 39% of Canadians (48% of Quebecers) believe that it's easy to be accepted by management, 38%, by clients and 37%, by close co-workers. Around 60% of Canadians and 55% of Quebecers think that homosexual orientation can be harmful for a career. Finally, 28% of Canadians and Quebecers say they have witnessed hostile behaviors towards a homosexual in the workplace. Those numbers prove how difficult it is to be sexually different in the workplace and show that homophobia is still a reality.

I would like to finish this section with an important question asked in the 2003 Léger Marketing survey on homophobia in Quebec: (free translation) Have you often, sometimes, rarely or never noticed hostile attitudes of behaviors towards homosexual people? To that question, 32% of the Quebecers said they have witness hostile behaviors or attitudes in their family or friend circle. That number proves that homosexuals are still victims of homophobia despite the considerable progress that has been achieved. As we will see, homosexuals are still fragile in terms of health. They also face serious problems in school.



Current situation of homosexuality and homophobia: Homosexuality and health and homosexuality in the education system


Note: Most of the information and data presented in this section come from two reports on homosexuality and homophobia: De l'égalité juridique à l'égalité sociale : vers une stratégie nationale de lutte contre l'homophobie, prepared by the Quebec's Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, and A New Look at Homophobia and Heterosexism in Canada, published by the Canadian AIDS Society.



Homosexuality and health


This section addresses the issue of homosexuality and health and homosexuality in the education system. It also covers the impact of homophobia on homosexuals. Despite their newly-acquired rights, homosexuals are still indirect or direct victims of homophobia. Homophobia and discrimination impact their psychological and physical health and sometimes lead to suicide or drug addiction. Since gay people grow up hearing all kinds of myths and disrespectful comments towards homosexuality, they internalize homophobia. They become homophobic themselves by incorporating the beliefs of their culture that it's wrong to be homosexual.


[...] they are learning to feel shame about their own lives, feelings and attractions. This shame will have negative consequences that, for many gays, lesbians and bisexual people, will endure their entire lives as something now called internalized homophobia. It is a major health problem within the gay, lesbian and bisexual community and itself impedes access to mental and physical health services. Combined with the perception that many health and social service professionals may well react negatively to gay, lesbian and bisexual people, this shame keeps people from pursing appropriate health care (Ryan 14).


That quote perfectly summarizes the issue of health and homosexuality. The Enquête sociale et de santé du Québec (1998) indicates that gay people experience more psychological distress and depression, and consider themselves less psychologically healthy than heterosexuals. According to that study, the level of drug and alcohol addiction is higher among gays. Homosexuals are also 6 to 16 times more prone to suicidal thoughts. The risk of suicide or suicide attempts is also more significant among homosexuals, who are especially vulnerable during the coming-out period. This is a difficult time for them, because they feel the urge to express themselves, but fear the reactions of their environment (family or friend circles, school, etc.).

Individuals who question themselves on their sexual orientation and identity don't ask health and social service professionals for help because they are afraid of their reaction and judgment. Consequently, they tend to isolate. Mental problems and suicide affect all categories of age. Thirty six percent of the gay and bisexual men, aged of 18 years or older and living in Montreal, who participated to that study said they did at least one suicide attempt. The suicide risk is higher in homophobic environments and rural areas.

In rural areas, the acceptance of homosexuality is more difficult. Young people from rural villages of towns are less inclined to divulge their sexual orientation and tend to feel and be more isolated. The lack of resources and social places for young homosexuals, and the absence of public transportation explain that situation. Finally, another huge health problem in the gay community is HIV/AIDS. Like it was mentioned before, gay men represent between 40 to 50% all diagnosed cases, but they only account for 4 to 5% of the population. Discrimination increases individuals' vulnerability to HIV infection. Internalized homophobia and fear of social stigmatization constitute an important risk factor and an obstacle to the adoption of safe sex practices.

Respect and appreciation from loved ones facilitate the adoption of safe behaviors.  In Quebec, 18% of homosexuals and bisexuals men live with HIV. The death rate has decreased thanks to new treatments. Unfortunately, authorities have noticed that young homosexuals take more risks sexually. Therefore, STDs of all kinds are rapidly increasing. Even though gay people are more inclined to consult their doctor, they often omit to divulge their orientation because they don't feel comfortable enough or are afraid of being judged. Consequently, they don't receive the appropriate information or treatment when it comes to sexual health because they have specific needs. Once again, the fear of stigmatization and judgment affects their health.

Thus, the consequences of homophobia are significant. They can lead to drug abuse or even death, whether the cause is suicide or HIV. As a society, we must be aware of the damage caused by homophobia, discrimination and silence or inaction. That is especially true in the education system.



Homosexuality and homophobia in the education system


Schools are not easy places to be different. Young homosexuals who discover their sexual orientation face intolerance from their peers. Since they spend most of their time in school, that intolerance can have catastrophic consequences. According to a 2002 study conducted by Daniel Martin and Alexandre Beaulieu with 158 school professionals, homophobia is widespread in the education system. Eighty five percent of the respondents said they witnessed homophobia in school. Seventy-six percent claimed they were not well informed on homosexuality and 74% said they needed more information and training on that topic. Those numbers are telling. They prove that homophobia does exist and that the personnel is not properly trained when it comes to homosexuality.

Most of the homophobic incidents occur (in descending order) in corridors, on the school playground, in the cafeteria, in the school entrance, on the school bus, on the street and in class. Usually, they are most frequent during sport activities, breaks and lunch breaks. Gym classes are the most at risk of seeing homophobic incidents. Finally, boys are more often the target of homophobic acts than girls.

There's another study that is worth paying attention to. Lyne Chamberland, sociologist and adjunct professor at l'Institut de recherches et d'études féministes, is leading a three-year study on homophobia in high school and CEGEP (college). The data collected so far support Martin and Beaulieu's study but ads new information. The first aspect of the study, conducted with 100 students from three different high schools, reveals that one third of the respondents are victim of homophobic insults or physical violence. It also shows that gays and lesbians are not the only victims. Thus, male students who look effeminate and female students who look too much masculine are also victims of homophobia. Their friends and family are also affected by homophobia.

Students from homosexual parents are also the target of homophobia. The statistics are very different in CEGEPs. According to the second aspect of the research, conducted with 1844 students from 26 CEGEPS, only 4.5% of the respondents say they are victims of homophobia. Surprisingly, only one third of those respondents consider themselves homosexuals or admit they are questioning themselves, and 65% of them say they are heterosexuals! Those statistics show that homophobia doesn't only affect homosexuals, but any individual who looks different.


The consequences of homophobia are significant. For most homosexuals, adolescence is the coming-out period. Boys and girls are building their sexual identity when in high school. This is why homophobia can have a dramatic impact on their lives. They live isolated, in pain and shame because of the violence they experience. They believe their sexual identity is wrong, which can ruin their self-esteem. Consequently, they often miss school or drop out. Students who question themselves hesitate to ask teachers or other school professionals for help, because they fear the negative reactions. Sometimes, they are right: school professionals are not always opened to homosexuality or properly trained to deal with it. Students find themselves even more isolated when they realize they have nobody to talk to. That is why on the long run, one adult out of two develops suicidal thoughts due to homophobic violence suffered in school.


Finally, gay teachers often hide their sexual orientation because they're afraid to lose their job or ability to control a class. They prefer to hide their homosexuality and consequently, they miss the opportunity to act as models for homosexual teenagers. Teachers and school professionals are not trained and informed on sexual diversity during their studies in university. Therefore, they are not prepared to react to homophobia and help victims of it. They don't know how to respond to homophobic acts. They hardly detect the stress and distress experienced by the victims. Another problem is the lack of information in the academic material. Sexual diversity is not covered in school manuals, and books on homosexuality are very rare in high school libraries. Therefore, students don't have access to information on their situation and feel even more "alone".


Most of the people explore or discover their sexual orientation in their adolescence, when they are in the education system. That critical period is made very difficult by intolerance and homophobia. As a society, we need to find solutions to eliminate anything that can disturb the sexual identity process. The government of Quebec is on the right track with its new policy against homophobia, a unique initiative that will help thousands of gay students and adults throughout the province.




Government actions to fight homophobia


The Quebec policy against homophobia is a comprehensive initiative that will allow homosexuals and other sexual minorities to reach social equality. Legally, a lot of progress has been made in Quebec since 1977. But to be truly effective, the newly-acquired legal equality must be supported by social equality. This is exactly the purpose of this policy. Here's how Premier Jean Charest presents it:

An inclusive society such as ours must take the necessary steps to combat homophobic attitudes and behaviour patterns, and move towards full acceptance of sexual diversity. By introducing this policy, the government hopes to trigger a firm commitment, by institutions and the general population, to fight all forms of homophobia. The policy sets out the government's goal of removing all the obstacles to full recognition of the social equality of the sexual minorities, at all levels of society. The message is clear: our society has everything to gain from accepting sexual diversity and fighting intolerance (Quebec Government 3).


The policy acts on the first recommendation made in the report by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, De l'égalité juridique à l'égalité sociale - Vers une stratégie nationale de lutte contre l'homophobie, that I used for the last section of this research. It is comprised of four guidelines and their strategic choices. The first guideline is to "recognize the realities faced by sexual minority members". Since their realities remain misunderstood, it is important to explain them. By informing the population properly, stereotypes and prejudices will be eradicated and homosexuals will be able to freely express their difference. Under Guideline 1, the first strategic choice is to raise awareness and educate, which means to demystify sexual minorities' realities and to promote openness and inclusion. The second strategic choice is to promote research. Its purpose is to improve knowledge on sexual diversity and allow the development of tools to fight homophobia.

Guideline 2 aims at promoting respect for the rights of sexual minorities. Institutions, the general population and victims of homophobia are not fully aware of the rights of sexual minorities, especially those resulting from recent legislative changes. Consequently, the first strategic choice is to promote those rights. The institutions and the population need to be informed on the new rights. Members of sexual minorities must be aware of the laws that guarantee their rights, including the Charter of human rights and freedom, and of the legal recourses and organizations where they can file a complaint. The second choice's objective is to help individuals exercise their rights.

Too often, members of sexual minorities do not fight for their rights, because they're afraid of the consequences or they don't know how to proceed. The government will encourage the exercise of the rights of sexual minorities by making complaint-processing procedures impartial, effective and prompt in all sectors of activity.


Guideline 3 aims at promoting wellbeing. Like it was explained previously, members of sexual minorities suffer from discrimination and homophobia and develop all kinds of health problems. The first strategic choice of Guideline 3 is to provide support for the victims of homophobia by giving them access to appropriate services. Society must publicize those services. Special attention must be paid to young people and people living in rural areas. Staff working with young people must be trained properly to be able to better identify cases of distress related to homophobia. The second choice is to encourage adaptation of public services.

Society must identify and correct institutional standards and practices that result in a denial of sexual differences. It must fight the heterosexism that prevails in all fields of intervention, especially in health and social services. Sexual minorities must feel free and welcome to access those services. Finally, the third choice is to provide support for community action. Government must support LGBT organizations and all those that respond to the needs of people dealing with homophobia.


Guideline 4 aims at ensuring a concerting approach. It invites all players in society to help meet the objectives. The first strategic choice is to coordinate public institutions' actions. It means to ensure the coordination of the actions launched by the different ministries and public institutions to fight homophobia. The second choice is to ensure the support of local and regional authorities and other government partners. The purpose is to involve as many social players as possible in the fight against homophobia.


This new policy establishes a framework for the fight against homophobia. The minister of justice, who's responsible for the fight against homophobia, will create an interdepartmental committee that will make sure that this policy leads to the adoption of concrete actions. It will ensure the implementation of the policy and monitor its application. It will be in charge of the coordination with other departmental policies and between government departments and LGBT groups. With that plan, Quebec is definitely moving towards social equality and leading the way. Let's hope other countries will follow the example.


The history of gays in Quebec is made of small victories and brave ordinary people who decided to resist, put an end to the shame and stop living in secrecy. Less than 200 years ago, homosexuals had no rights. They were criminals, deviants and sinners. During the 20th century, homosexuals began realizing that they formed an important proportion of the population thanks to Kinsey's report.  They started seeing a positive image of homosexuality and hear a plea for tolerance in literature, theatre and cinema. Gradually, they developed a community and places to meet.

In the 60s and the 70s, political gay movements were created. They led to a better recognition of homosexuals. In 1977, they won their first legal battle in Quebec. That victory paved the way to a long series of victories. Today, homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals, but their situation is still fragile. The data collected in the six Léger Marketing surveys show that an important part of the population believes that homosexuality is either abnormal or a sickness. Yes, the numbers are encouraging, but real acceptance is hard to obtain. Homosexuals still feel shame and the need to hide their orientation with some people and in some situations because of the fear of discrimination.

The coming-out is still an ordeal for adolescents who discover their sexual difference. All those stress factors have devastated consequences on homosexuals' mental and psychological health. They are more at risk of developing suicidal thoughts and contracting STDs due to the inability of health and social services to provide adequate treatments and interventions to members of sexual minorities. This is why, as a society, we must not believe that we have won the war on intolerance and homophobia. We have just won a few battles. We must still openly talk about homosexuality and demystify it. We must say that it's normal and that it's not a choice.

We must ask every homosexual to proudly express his or her orientation so that everyone realizes that gay people are our neighbors, friends, teachers, members of our family, managers... We must fight the stereotypes. As for the government, it must support LGBT organizations, programs and events that promote and defend sexual diversity. It must implement its new policy integrally and as soon as possible. It must launch campaigns against homophobia and inform the population on homosexuals' rights. We must remember what our "predecessors" have been through and prepare a better future for new generations of homosexuals.


Annotated Bibliography

Brunet, Anne-Marie. "Homophobe, le milieu scolaire québécois?" L'UQAM - Le journal de l'Université du Québec à Montréal 35.14 (2009). Web. November 8, 2010.


This article gives information and statistics on physical and psychological violence related to homophobia in Québec high schools and CEGEP (general and vocational colleges). It will be useful for writing section IV-B (Homosexuality and the education system).



De l'égalité juridique à l'égalité sociale : vers une stratégie nationale de lutte contre l'homophobie. Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, 2007. Web. November 8, 2010.


This report will be very helpful for covering the following topics of my research: homosexuality and health, including suicide and drug addiction, homosexuality and the education system, homosexuality in the cultural communities, homosexuality and the elderlies, and homosexuality in the country.



Lee, John Allan. "Homosexuality". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation, 1999. Web. November 8, 2010.


This source will help me prepare the introduction by providing background information. It will be particularly helpful to write the historical overview in the introduction (section I. A: Homosexuality in Western History and modern society).



Higgins, Ross. De la clandestinité à l'affirmation - Pour une histoire de la communauté gaie montrélaise. Trans. Alain Beauvais. Montréal: COMEAU & NADEAU, 1999. Print.


This book provides all the necessary information for section II. A, B and C. In other words, it will allow me to write the history of homosexuality in Québec and Montréal from 1880 to 1977.



Hurley, Marie C. Sexual Orientation and Legal Rights. Library of Parliament - Parliamentary Information and Research Services, 2007. Web. November 8, 2010.


This book provides all the necessary information for section II. D (Towards Legal equality - Evolution of gay rights). In other words, it will allow me to describe the homosexuals' important legal victories between 1977 and 2005.



Léger Marketing Research Firm. Opinion Survey among Cultural Communities in Québec - Perceptions and Opinions of Cultural Communities Regarding Homosexuality. Montréal, 2009. Web. November 8, 2010.


This survey provides a large number of statistics and information related to the perceptions and opinions of ethnic groups on homosexuality. It will be essential for section III (Perception of the population - Revealing statistics and analysis).



Léger Marketing Research Firm. Canadian Opinion Poll - Perceptions and Opinions of Canadians Regarding Homosexuality. Montréal, 2008. Web. November 8, 2010.


This survey provides a large number of statistics and information related to the perceptions and opinions of Canadians on homosexuality. It will be essential for section III (Perception of the population - Revealing statistics and analysis).



Léger Marketing Research Firm. Pan Canadian Omnibus Study - Perceptions and Opinions of Canadians Regarding Homosexual People. Montréal, 2007. Web. November 8, 2010.


This survey provides a large number of statistics and information related to the perceptions and opinions of Canadians on homosexual people. It will be essential for section III (Perception of the population - Revealing statistics and analysis).



Léger Marketing Research Firm. Pan Canadian Omnibus Study - Homosexuality and the Workplace. Montréal, 2006. Web. November 8, 2010.


This survey provides a large number of statistics and information related to the perceptions and opinions of Canadians on homosexuality and the workplace. It will be essential for section III (Perception of the population - Revealing statistics and analysis).



Léger Marketing Research Firm. Pan Canadian Omnibus Study - Perceptions and Opinions of Canadians Regarding Homosexual People. Montréal, 2005. Web. November 8, 2010.


This survey provides a large number of statistics and information related to the perceptions and opinions of Canadians on homosexual people. It will be essential for section III (Perception of the population - Revealing statistics and analysis).



Léger Marketing Research Firm. Étude Omnibus - Perception et opinion des Québécois à l'égard des personnes homosexuelles. Montréal, 2004. Web. November 8, 2010.


This survey provides a large number of statistics and information related to the perceptions and opinions of Quebecers on homosexuality. It will be essential for section III (Perception of the population - Revealing statistics and analysis).



Léger Marketing Research Firm. Étude Omnibus - L'homophobie au Québec : mythe ou réalité? Montréal, 2003. Web. November 8, 2010.


This survey provides a large number of statistics and information on homophobia and. It will help me prove that homophobia is still very present in today's society.



Québec Government. Ministry of Justice. Québec Policy Against Homophobia: Moving Toghether Towards Social Equality. Justice Québec, 2009. Web. November 8, 2010.


This source provides solutions to fight/eliminate homophobia. It will be essential for section V (Government actions to fight homophobia).



Ryan, Bill. New Look at Homophobia and Heterosexism. Canadian AIDS Society, 2003. Web. November 8, 2010.


This source provides information on the issue of HIV in the gay community. It will be helpful for sections V. A, B, D and F. It addresses the issue of homosexuality in the education health and cultural communities. It also gives information on elder homosexuals.





























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