Yesterday was the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which is all very nice and sounds warm and fuzzy but really has very little meaning since homosexuals and transgendered people are still at risk for being put to death in many countries and imprisoned in others. Gay and transgendered people in Canada may think they have it tough but in relation to their brothers and sisters in some other parts of the world they tend to fare rather well. Despite this the federal government is introducing legislation to further protect the transgendered. Some might say they’re already protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and various other pieces of human rights legislation but like the chicken soup, this probably can’t hurt and it’s certainly good optics for the Trudeau government.
Often overlooked is the use of “phobia” when it comes to describing those who feel a moral objection to any of these lifestyles. While it’s true that there are people who have an irrational fear of some things (spiders, airplanes, homosexuality to name a few) it does not follow that everyone who believes for religious reasons, that being gay is wrong or immoral, is homophobic. The “phobic” tag is a convenient label to slap on someone in order to silence and discredit them. But silencing solves nothing. We need more conversation, not less. Let’s start using the phobic suffix when it truly applies and not just because we’re phobic ourselves about people who don’t share our views.