Actions speak louder than words

    Ella Henry - From College Hill to Parliament Hill (Tom Bateman/AQ)

    I came out in the middle of debates around legalizing same-sex marriage in Canada. There were no shortage of Conservative MP’s spewing homophobic rhetoric and opposing same-sex marriage legislation.

    So, I found it a bit odd that a group of Conservative politicians and staffers put together an “It gets better” video a couple of weeks ago.

    The video came after gay Ottawa teen Jamie Hubley took his own life after years of bullying.

    Dan Savage started the “It gets better” project in September 2010, as a response to bullying and high suicide rates of LGBTQ youth.

    According to the “It gets better” website, the goal of the project is “to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years.”

    While the original goal of the project was for openly gay, happy and successful adults to show young people going through a tough time that life can get better, many straight celebrities and politicians have participated in the project.

    And if it was only straight politicians participating, I would look past the absence of any openly gay MP’s or senators in the video.

    But, as Rick Mercer said in his latest rant – it’s time for gay adults – including gay cabinet ministers – to step up to the plate (feel free to google gay Conservative cabinet minister).

    The overwhelming majority of MP’s in the video voted in favour of re-opening the debate on same-sex marriage in 2006 and against the Trans Rights Bill, which would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in Canada’s Human Rights Act.

    In 2004, Vic Toews said the bill to add sexual orientation to hate crime legislation “puts the jackboot of fascism on the necks of our people.”

    Toews voted against legalizing same-sex marriage, in favour of re-opening the debate in 2006 and against the Trans Rights Bill. His voting record makes it pretty clear that while he may talk about how it gets better, the only thing he has ever done is make it worse.

    David Sweet, while not elected until 2006, has since voted in favour of re-opening the debate on same sex marriage and against the Trans Rights Bill. Sweet was also quoted as calling homosexuality a sin in a 2002 interview.

    So, again, if Sweet has done anything for LGBT youth, he has only made things worse.

    The most obvious exception to this trend is John Baird, who, to his credit, has never supported anti-gay legislation. He voted against re-opening the debate on same-sex marriage in 2006 and in favour of the Trans Rights Bill.

    It’s possible that many of the Conservative MP’s who have previously supported legislation that makes the lives of LGBTQ youth worse were genuinely touched by Hubley’s suicide and have had a change of heart.

    Both Hedy Fry (Liberal) and Randall Garrison (NDP) are reintroducing the Trans Rights Bill championed by former NDP MP Bill Siskay that passed the House of Commons last spring, but failed to reach the senate before May’s election.

    Unless every Conservative politician who participated in the video votes in favour of it this time around, calling them hypocrites is fair game.