The current generation of older 2SLGBTQ+ people have experienced a lifetime of discrimination due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Someone who was born in 1948, and is aged 75 in 2023:
- Was impacted by laws that criminalized homosexuality until they were 21
- Their sexual orientation was seen as a mental illness until they were 31
- Their rights were not protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms until they were 47, when in 2017, the Government passed Bill C-16, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to explicitly include gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds against discrimination.
- They had no legal rights to marriage until they were 61, when same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005.
- For transgender and gender diverse older adults, their gender identity and gender expression were only added to the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code protections when they were aged 64.
While much progress has been made for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, Canada still has a long way to go in a more inclusive and equitable society for all older Canadians, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
7.3 per cent of those identifying as 2SLGBTQ2S+ in Canada are aged 65 and older. This group of seniors faces very specific challenges as they age:
- They are less likely to seek health care when they need it due to fear of discrimination.
- They often do not disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression to their care providers for fear of discrimination
- They are at a higher risk for negative health outcomes later in life, including depression, suicide, substance abuse, smoking
- They report more feelings of isolation from their communities
- Some individuals may face challenges finding welcoming and inclusive housing options or may fear discrimination from staff or residents in care facilities. In 2022, Toronto opened the first dedicated long-term care for 2SLGBTQ+ in North America.
Ongoing work is needed to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement of 2SLGBTQ+ rights, address health disparities, improve access to housing and long-term care, and foster a more inclusive and accepting society.
To improve the lives of 2SLGBTQI people in Canada and to enhance the global response to 2SLGBTQI issues. Egale will achieve this by informing public policy, inspiring cultural change, and promoting human rights and inclusion through research, education, awareness and legal advocacy.
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