UK, Canada standing up for LGBT rights in Dallas, worldwide
Karen Bell | British Consul General and
Sara Wilshaw | Canadian Consul General
This weekend the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ annual Pride parade, will showcase new, international friends. For the first time since the celebration began 33 years ago, two foreign governments — Canada and the UK — will have representation, standing up for LGBT rights worldwide.
Britain and Canada have a lot in common; our countries share a common language and even a queen.
But more importantly, we share the same democratic values, especially when it comes to human rights. We recognise that LGBT rights are a fundamental pillar of human rights and by embracing love in all its vibrant forms, our countries are stronger and more prosperous.
We know that businesses and economies flourish when workforces and communities are inclusive and respectful and people are able to be themselves.
In 2015, the UK received the highest score in Europe for LGBT rights from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. The UK government has recognized civil partnerships for more than a decade and equal marriage since 2014.
Canada enacted same-sex marriage legislation more than a decade ago, becoming the first country in the western hemisphere to do so.
There is no denying the progress that has been made in reaching equal rights for LGBT people worldwide. We are privileged to represent countries where the LGBT community is protected by law from discrimination. But we recognize that the fight is far from over. There are still parts of the world where it is a crime to be a gay, lesbian or transgender person. Our diplomatic and international development colleagues in those countries are working to change that.
No one should have to suffer any discrimination because of their sexual orientation or identity. We have all seen how a community suffers when discrimination and hatred are expressed in the form of violence.
Marching in the Pride parades is nothing new for our countries. The UK has been the first foreign government to participate in 11 local Pride events across the U.S. In Dallas, the UK shares that honor with Canada, whose prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has become the country’s first sitting prime minister to march in Pride parades across Canada.
Our participation in the Dallas parade demonstrates our commitment to the human rights of LGBT persons by raising this issue on the world stage and inviting other countries to follow suit. We look forward to marching on Sunday, shoulder to shoulder with members of the Dallas LGBT Community — rainbow flag held proudly in one hand, Union Jack and Maple Leaf raised high in the other.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2016.