Earlier this week, Leela Aheer, the minister of culture, multiculturalism, and status of women issued the following statement on Pride Month:
In June, Alberta joins the world in celebrating Pride Month. This is a time to recognize the triumphs and contributions of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Usually, Pride Month would be full of gatherings and events. However, with restrictions for physical distancing and mass gatherings, we will demonstrate our support and celebrate pride in different ways.
We’re stronger together, so through June, consider how you can be a part of building a more welcoming, inclusive community. Be a good ally, speak out against discrimination, share support online, and show that our province is a safe place for all to live and love freely.
This seems like a nice statement, but as a queer activist with a long memory, I have to remind my readers of a few things.
First, even though cities like Calgary , Edmonton, and St. Albert have passed legislation to protect queer kids from conversion therapy (Lethbridge is drafting a bylaw), the provincial government has yet to do it for the entire province. Conversion therapy is any form of talk therapy or similar activity that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity (such as gay to straight or trans to cis). To be fair, the NDP government didn’t do it either. But at least the NDP created a conversion ban working group, which was one of the first things the UCP dismantled after gaining power.
Second, this is the same government who, a year ago, introduced—and subsequently passed—Bill 8, which rolled back several QSA protections that had been put in place by the previous government.
Third, Jason Kenney, the party’s leader, has never attended a Pride parade, voted against marriage equality, and even advocated for removing privileges for partners of gay HIV patients.
The UCP have done very little—if anything at all—to build a “more welcoming, inclusive community”. Until they do, it’s hypocritical—or at least superficial—to post statements like this.