The Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project will be marching in the Halifax Pride parade on Saturday, July 23 with an in-your-face message for those who come out: it’s time to decriminalize queer sex in Canada.
That may come as a surprise to many who think that gay rights have advanced beyond such legal battles, but the law makes some queer sex into criminal acts, says NSRAP’s legal and law reform committee chair Kevin Kindred.
“Not everyone thinks of anal sex and law reform every day. Not everyone thinks of prostitution as a queer rights issue,” Kindred says. “We’re trying to get people talking and thinking differently about what is a queer rights issue and reemphasize that sexual liberation impulse that is important to the LGBT community and the work that we do.”
The NSRAP marchers will carry placards that call for major reforms to the Criminal Code to end legal persecution of queer people.
Two placards, reading “Legal Anal Sex” and “2’s Company, 3’s a Crime? Legalize 3somes,” call attention to section 159 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes anal sex when any of the partners is under the age of 18, the partners are not “husband and wife,” or the act takes place in public or when more than two persons are present.
That section of the Criminal Code has been struck down on equality grounds by superior courts in five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and, most recently, in Nova Scotia. But it remains on the books and is still prosecuted in the other provinces and territories.
More placards will call for reform to sex work laws, equalizing the age of consent, ending raids on gay bathhouses and cruising spots, and enhancing sex education in schools.
Kindred says he isn’t worried that the blunt messages in NSRAP’s march will offend Halifax’s more conservative elements.
“I don’t think our participation is going to offend or shock anyone, but I do hope it causes some good conversations about sexual liberation and activism,” he says. “It’s true that you don’t see the sorts of things you see in larger Pride parades. People aren’t excited about marching down the street nude. But I don’t think that people have negative feelings towards expressing our sexual identities.”