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Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada

Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada: Social Movements and Equality-Seeking, 1971-1995

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 240
  • Book Info
    Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada
    Book Description:

    Using archival material that has largely been ignored, as well as interviews with Canadian activists, Smith investigates the ways in which the Canadian lesbian and gay movement has changed in response to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7663-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-25)

    On a drizzly day in August 1971 two hundred protestors gathered on Parliament Hill, carrying signs that read ‘We Demand Freedom to Love’ and ‘Smash Heterosexual Imperialism.’ Organized by activists from Ottawa, Toronto, Waterloo, Vancouver, and Montreal, the demonstrators presented a brief to Parliament that demanded equality for lesbian and gay male citizens.² In December of the same year the first issue ofThe Body Politic, ‘a gay liberation newspaper,’ appeared in Toronto. In Montreal, the Front de libération homosexuelle was founded; in Vancouver, the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE) had already been formed.³ Two...

  7. 2 The Subject(s) Speak(s)
    (pp. 26-40)

    New social movements are often depicted as loose networks rather than tight organizations, lacking the bureaucracy and institutionalized procedures of more conventional organized interests such as producer groups.¹ Alberto Melucci comments that social movements frequently resemble ‘an amorphous nebula,’ which ‘makest it extremelyt difficult to actually specify the collective actor.’² This certainly applies to the area of lesbian and gay rights. As lesbian and gay male communities were built over the course of the seventies and eighties, two distinct and organized political movements arose that attracted the attention of activists: the women’s movement and the gay liberation movement. In the...

  8. 3 Before the Charter
    (pp. 41-72)

    Much of the debate on the effects of the Charter on Canadian politics has implied that equality-seeking is a new strategy for organized interests in Canadian society. This current chapter surveys developments in lesbian and gay politics during the seventies, focusing specifically on the role of rights claims in the meaning frame and strategies of the emerging movement to provide a benchmark for comparison with the post-Charter period. Through an examination of equality-seeking at the federal level, beginning with the establishment of the National Gay Rights Coalition in 1975, as well as a selective survey of local gay liberation groups...

  9. 4 Charter Effects I
    (pp. 73-110)

    In the next two chapters, I will examine the ways in which the changed political opportunity structure – the entrenchment of the Charter in 1982 and, in particular, the coming into force of section 15 (equality rights) in 1985 – eventually attracted the mobilizing energies of lesbian and gay communities over the course of the eighties and nineties. During this period, the lesbian and gay communities in Canada’s urban areas grew substantially, many more lesbians and gay men chose to live their lives out of the closet to various degrees, and the cultural life of the communities developed.¹ The counter-cultural...

  10. 5 Charter Effects II
    (pp. 111-140)

    In the previous chapter I examined the way in which the entrenchment of the Charter sparked the establishment of a new federal jurisdiction lesbian and gay rights organization – EGALE. In the first decade after the 1985 coming into force of section 15, a range of other developments occurred in the politics of the lesbian and gay communities. In Englishspeaking Canada, organizations and individuals were drawn into the interpretative framework of rights talk and a substantial debate began to emerge in the lesbian and gay communities about the meaning and role of rights talk. Despite critiques of rights talk, both...

  11. 6 Conclusions
    (pp. 141-156)

    The lesbian and gay rights movement in Canada has undergone tremendous changes over the period from 1971 to 1995. From a fragile set of small and dispersed groups in 1971, the communities have grown to institutional and social diversity, especially in major urban centres. In the late sixties, lesbian and gay life was lived largely in subcultures of the closet in various forms; from the late seventies and into eighties, and nineties, lesbian and gay life could be lived in community services, Pride Day, AIDS organizing, the lesbian and gay media, and in social and recreational activities ranging from swim...

    (pp. 157-164)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 165-192)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-204)
  15. Index
    (pp. 205-211)