A Canadian group whose homepage currently states that one of the biggest threats to families is the “homosexual lobby” and “the media” has been appointed to help government decide how to award Diamond Jubilee Medals to honour Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years of service to Canada.
REAL Women of Canada, a socially conservative, anti-feminist group that often acts as an intervenor in court cases that oppose queer rights, will recommend medals under the social and volunteer category.
An article on the group’s homepage also dismisses bullying, saying it’s a justified reaction on the part of youth frustrated by the “special treatment” granted to queer or non-Christian youth in schools.
The Canadian Queen’s Diamond Jubilee program is awarding medals to 60,000 “outstanding” Canadians, according to the governor general’s website.
Coordinators have invited non-governmental partners to advise government about worthy Canadians who deserve a medal.
A spokesperson for the governor general’s program says a committee decided on partner organizations based on a number of different categories, such as health, multiculturalism, and arts and culture.
“I don’t think they reflect the general views of women in Canada,” says Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, which was not asked to participate. “I’m not saying they don’t have a right to be there; however, you need to balance the playing field a little bit, and if you’re going to appoint them, then you should appoint women from any number of women’s groups who are very progressive, aren’t homophobic and transphobic, and deserve to be at the table.”
Medals have been awarded to constituents deemed worthy by MPs, senators, provincial and territorial premiers, lieutenant governors and territorial commissioners.
“I thought it was interesting that you have this group that’s on this list as a recognized non-governmental partner to the awards who has homophobic leanings and advocates against rights, and you don’t even have one organization whose exclusive purpose is to advocate for LGBT rights,” says Casey Oraa, vice-chair of Queer Ontario. “It’s kind of disturbing.”
Sheryl Hoshizaki, executive director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, agrees.
“When you choose an organization like that, that has such narrow definitions of who Canadians are and what women should do, it’s really problematic because the whole idea behind the Jubilee medals would be to ensure that you reach out across Canada,” she says.