Proud All Year: Eight ways we're fighting for BC's 2SLGBTQ+ community

Pride is a celebration born of protest against discrimination and violence, and for equal rights.

While we've come a long way, the hard-won rights of queer folx around the world are never guaranteed. We must continue fighting for equality — here in BC and around the world.

During the 1990’s the NDP was BC’s first government with an out gay MLA, and the first to bring in adoption rights and pension benefits for queer couples. Now in 2022, we're still working hrd to deliver meaningful, impactful progress for the queer community. Some of these include:

BC NDP and federal NDP supporters including Jagmeet Singh pose behind a giant NDP banner

1. A new independent Human Rights Commission

In 2002, the BC Liberals eliminated the Human Rights Commission, making BC the only province in Canada without one. We’ve re-established the commission and made it fully independent. Our new Human Rights Commissioner, Kasari Govender, started work in September 2019.

A pride parade marcher in front of a rainbow flag smiles for the camera

2. PrEP is now free

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP, is now available for no cost to all British Columbians at high risk of HIV infection. We expanded access in January 2018 and as of summer 2021, nearly 7,500 people have been prescribed this important medication.

BC NDP supporters in colourful pride parade costumes smile for photos

3. Top surgeries available in every BC Health Authority

We’ve expanded upper surgery access from just Vancouver and Victoria to now include Burnaby, Kamloops, Kelowna, Port Moody, and Prince George, helping people — and those who care for them — stay closer to home.

BC NDP supporters marching in the pride parade

4. Lower surgeries now available in BC

We were the first province in western Canada to introduce gender-affirming lower surgery, including supportive aftercare. Interested in gender-affirming surgery? Find out more here.

Pride parade sign says 'Break the Binary'

5. X gender marker option available for BC IDs

We’ve made it easier for British Columbians who do not identify as male or female to display an X marker in the gender field of their BC issued driver’s license, identity card, birth certificate, and BC Services Card.

John Horgan and Adrienne Smith hold a pride flag and pose for a photo

6. Eliminating unnecessary gendered language in BC regulations

We know words matter and language is powerful. That's why, in 1972, one of the first regulations BC's first ever NDP government eliminated was the 'Male Minimum Wage Act' which guaranteed a minimum wage for work only to male British Columbians. We updated it to include both genders. But now, that's not enough (and shouldn't be).

In 2021, our BC NDP government removed more than 600 clauses in 70 laws that applied unnecessarily gendered language and replaced them with gender neutral alternatives. And we're not done — our government is looking at replacing an additional 3,400 clauses in our laws.

BC NDP supporters waving flags in the pride parade

7. Bringing SOGI 123 to all 60 BC school districts

We believe all students deserve to be welcomed, included, and respected in a safe learning environment while being fully and completely themselves. As of May 2019, all of BC’s 60 School Districts and independent schools have adopted SOGI 123. You can find out more about SOGI 123 here.

BC NDP MLAs Spencer Chandra Herbert and Mable Elmore pose for a photo

8. Supporting a federal ban on conversion therapy

On August 1, 2019 Attorney General David Eby, Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert sent a letter to the federal government to add conversion therapy to Canada’s Criminal Code.

While Conversion therapy was already prohibited in BC's public health care system, we knew it was time for the federal government to take a crucial next step and ban this harmful, unethical and dangerous practice. The ban finally passed in the federal House of Commons and Senate in December 2021, coming into effect in January 2022.

BC is stronger when everyone is truly free to be who they are.

We will always keep working to build a more inclusive province for everyone - no matter who you are, or who you love. Happy Pride!