Huricane Juan
Toronto Star
  • Flag-raising marks start of Toronto?s first Pride Month

    Toronto kicked off its first-ever Pride Month on Tuesday with a flag-raising ceremony at city hall.

    The ceremony marked the start of the longest Pride event in Toronto’s history. What started as a day, and eventually became Pride Week, now will take place over the entire month of June. The event is capped off each year by the Pride parade.

    Councillor Kristin Wong-Tam started the event by talking about the historic struggles Toronto's LGBT community has faced.

    “It hasn’t always been fine. There have been moments in time in the history of the LGBT movement where we’ve had to fight harder to ... get the recognition we deserve,” Wong-Tam said.

    Mayor John Tory, who made the proclamation that officially started Pride Month, talked about how far the city had come from the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids, which sparked protests and eventually became the catalyst for Pride events in the City.

    “If you look back to the roots 35 years ago, it took the form of a protest ... and here we are, 35 years later, when a protest has become a parade,” Tory said.

    Tory also announced the trans flag would be raised for the first time, as he talked about the ongoing struggles members of the trans community still face. Tory also mentioned Black Lives Matter, a group he said he's “had differences with in the past,” but which would be participating alongside Tory in Pride month, which Tory said he was happy about.

    “We’ll all be together to ... remind ourselves as well how much work we have left to be done,” he said.

    Nearby at Queen's Park, Premier Kathleen Wynne had announced earlier that day a bill that would give LGBT parents equal rights, and eliminate the need for them to adopt children from their biological parents.

    Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois said Pride has grown beyond its traditional week. The diverse members of the community each deserve their day during Pride, he said.

    “We will talk about blackness and queerness and politics,” he said.

    Chantelois also stressed the problems members of the LGBT community, especially trans members, face. He told his trans friends in the audience he would continue fighting for them. This year, the flag-raising also included a trans flag being raise simultaneously on Queen St.

    “The fight is not over. We have a lot of work to do and we will do it together,” he said.

  • Same-sex parents? names to both go on birth certificates

    Ontario will move next fall to end discrimination against same-sex parents, Premier Kathleen Wynne says.

    The Liberal government will pick up on a private members’ bill from New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo to modernize family laws, ending a situation where the birth certificate registration system presumes that only one man and one woman can be parents.

    That has forced same-sex mothers or fathers to adopt their own children.

    “To all of the parents and advocates pushing for equal treatment of LGBTQ-plus families, I am committed to fixing this,” Wynne said Tuesday, giving kudos to DiNovo, whose bill was introduced last fall.

    Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur will be tasked with preparing the legislation over the summer.

    Wynne, who made history as Canada’s first openly gay premier, said she hopes to get the law passed by the end of the year.

    DiNovo welcomed the move but said Wynne’s time frame is not fast enough.

    The MPP called on the Liberal government to pass her private members’ bill — which had all-party support in a second reading vote last December — before the legislature rises for its summer recess on June 9 and before annual Pride celebrations begin.

    “There is no need to wait,” DiNovo said in a statement. “LGBTQ parents have waited long enough. There are babies being born without parental recogniation.”

    While same-sex marriage has been the law for more than 12 years, the children’s law reform act has lagged, resulting in the need for same-sex parents to adopt their own kids to be legally recognized as parents.

    DiNovo’s bill would have made all reference to “parents” gender neutral and allow for more than two parents to be listed on a birth certificate.

    The outspoken MPP for Parkdale-High Park has been critical of the government for not moving faster on this issue.

    It has been 10 years since Ontario’s Superior Court ruled that couples who use sperm donors and other reproductive technologies should enjoy the same parental rights as people who conceive naturally.

    Justice Paul Rivard raised concerns at the time that people not officially registered as parents would have trouble getting medical treatment or passports for their children.

    Since then, a group of LGBT families has launched a constitutional challenge to the current law.

    “If the government is sincere, they should not be fighting this case,” said DiNovo. “They should settle with the families with a final court order.”

  • LIVE: Smich shot Tim Bosma, Millard?s lawyer tells murder trial

    The lawyer for a man charged with murder in the death of Tim Bosma says it was his client's co-accused that shot and killed the Hamilton father.

    Dellen Millard's lawyer, Ravin Pillay, says in his closing arguments to the jury that it was a desperate Mark Smich who pulled the trigger three years ago.

    Bosma disappeared on May 6, 2013 after leaving home with two strangers for a test drive of a truck he was trying to sell online. His remains were found days later burned beyond recognition.

    Pillay says Millard panicked after Smich shot Bosma and tried to help his friend with the coverup.

    He says Millard was an accessory after the fact to the crime and that his actions both before and after Bosma's death show there was no plan to kill the man and burn his body in an animal incinerator, as the Crown has alleged.

    Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Smich, 28, of Oakville, Ont., have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

    Smich has previously testified it was Millard who shot and killed Bosma and incinerated his body.

Arts & Letters
Sunday, 12 August 2007