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Depression by way of discrimination

by The Concordian October 25, 2011

An openly gay teenager from Ottawa committed suicide last week after suffering from depression, mainly brought on by constant bullying. It once again raises the topic of oppression suffered by gays and lesbians in our society.
Jamie Hubley’s example reveals the inner struggle many gay and lesbian teenagers must face everyday. Jamie was a teenage boy who was open about his sexuality, going as far as creating a Rainbow Club at his school to encourage others who were struggling to do the same. The task, however, wasn’t easy.
“The posters were torn down and he was called vicious names in the hallways and online,” said Jamie’s father in a statement.
Jamie’s suicide isn’t the first for LGBT teens, nor the last. A disturbing amount of them have taken place this year, and have received a lot of attention. This leads to an important question: what is the government doing to protect the LGBT community?
While Canadian society has moved forward by encouraging young people to be open and accepting of their sexuality, teenagers are still left vulnerable to the cruelty inflicted on them by certain people in society.
Hubley’s death coincides with a report released by the provincial government, in which they pledge to put a seven million dollar plan in action, which will be equally distributed among organizations working to protect gay and lesbian rights.
“The plan is based on demystifying gay people within the heterosexual community and ensuring they are treated fairly at school, work and society at large,” said Quebec justice minister Jean-Marc Fournier.
This action plan is part of the Government action plan against homophobia, which was released earlier this year. What the Quebec government is ultimately trying to do is recognize the problems members of the LGBT community face in our society and promote their rights, as well as raise awareness.
Unfortunately, homosexuality is still somewhat taboo in our society today. Despite gays and lesbians being considered officially equal by the Quebec government since 1977, when the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms made it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals, many still don’t understand the problems they face. An average day for some consists of being laughed at, being jeered at, and being made fun of on a daily basis. This alone is enough to break anyone.
Donald Boisvert, a lecturer and undergraduate adviser at Concordia in the department of religion and expert on same-sex relations, states that the problem in bullying gay teenagers is one that’s difficult to solve.
“Teenagers are very ignorant and afraid of homosexuality in their midst, at school with them, and that’s why many homosexual teens succumb to bullying”, said Boisvert.
It’s hard to give any credit to the current government, prior to this seven million dollar pledge. It wasn’t until 2002 that homosexuals were given the same rights and obligations as heterosexuals, as stated in Bill 32.
This new action plan the government put in place is taking a different angle than previous years. The government is giving an enormous push to hard working, non-profit organizations whose first and main goal will be to give LGBT teenagers the confidence to live their own lives. Now that our government, in the past decade, has officially recognized the fact that heterosexuals and homosexuals are equal, it’s time for them to inject more funding into these organizations in order to completely eliminate homophobia from our society.
“We must salute this concrete gesture taken by our government that will help us consolidate but especially protect our youth out there, and that affirmative action be taken everywhere in Quebec,” says Robert Lamarée, founder of Emergence, a pro gay foundation dedicated to promoting equality for gays and lesbians.
Boisvert embraces the government’s action plan as a step forward, stating the important role such non-profit organizations play in raising awareness for gays and lesbians, especially among young people who succumb to bullying.
“These organizations are all over Montreal and play a very important role,” said Boisvert. “Gris Montreal, for example, tries to educate our youth especially so that bullying can be minimized all over our province.”
In 2006, a survey counted roughly 45,345 same-sex couples in Canada; the numbers are rapidly rising from year to year. In Montreal, 18.4 per cent of the population was homosexual. These numbers cannot be ignored.

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