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George Hislop dies

Pioneering gay activist George Hislop died in a Toronto hospital Oct 10.

Hislop has been a prominent figure in the Canadian queer rights movement since the late 1960s. He famously ran for seats on Toronto city council and in the Ontario provincial parliament to protest brutal attacks against gay men in Toronto’s bathhouses by police and government in the early 1980s.

Over the past 19 years, Hislop has fought the federal government to have Canada Pension Plan (CPP) survivor benefits extended to same-sex spouses. He was the lead complainant in a class-action lawsuit that successfully secured retroactive benefits for over 1,000 gay couples and ensured survivor benefits are extended to gay people in the future.

But at the time of his death, Hislop was still fighting to get CPP money owed to him related to the 1986 death of his partner, Ron Shearer. In July, the government agreed to begin paying Hislop arrears in advance of their Supreme Court of Canada appeal set for May 2006. He got his first cheque in August.

“I deeply regret that the government was unwilling to acknowledge George’s full equality prior to his death,” says Gail Meredith of Vancouver, another plaintiff in the case. “He truly made Canada a better place for everyone by showing us that we must never stop asserting our right to equality.”

Hislop was 78.