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Tracey Tong/metro ottawa
The first Capital Pride human rights vigil last night celebrated the strides made by Canada’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities in recent years, but was also a symbol of battles yet to be fought, said the event chairman.
“We’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way to go at the same time,” said chairman Gord Boissonneault. “In most countries … you cannot live openly as a gay person.”
Attended by 75 people from the GLBT community and supporters, Boissonneault, came up with the idea to hold the vigil at Ottawa’s human rights monument this year on the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, a document he said has made a difference in the lives of the GLBT community in Canada.
The visible location also allowed the group to get their message across to more people. “For a lot of people in the straight community, they don’t realize that we have human rights issues,” Boissonneault said.
While Canada is one of seven countries where same-sex marriage is legal, gay people are persecuted and executed in 85 countries in the world, according to Boissonneault.
For Ottawa’s Bara Rek-El-Bakhour, human rights issues go beyond GLBT. The Lebanese-Canadian said that for him, it’s a cultural issue.
“(I’m here) because one person can’t change anything,” he said. “It has to be a group of people who come together.”
“It’s important for everyone to get educated on the things discussed here,” said Ottawa resident Joseph Jacques, a first-time Capital Pride volunteer. “The information brought here tonight is something everyone should know.”
Following speeches, the group screened a film on pride parades held around the world, “so people remember that not everyone has it so good,” said Boissonneault. The vigil is a new event, but there are more to come, including Saturday’s Rainbow Party and Sunday’s parade.