2SLGBTQ+ community advocacy group Qmunity, in collaboration with LOUD Business, Rainbow Refugee, and the Community Based Research Center, hosted the Proud2Vote town hall virtually over Facebook on Sept. 13. The town hall was moderated by NEWS 1130 news director Charmaine de Silva. It featured Liberal candidate Dr. Hedy Fry, NDP candidate Breen Ouellette, Conservative candidate Hannah Hodson, and Green candidate Dr. Devyani Singh.
“What we often find is that queer, trans, two-spirited community members aren’t represented very visibly in political arena,” says Anoop Gill, Qmunity co-executive director of programs and services.
“Part of Qmunity’s strategy is to make arenas like politics more accessible for our community members … their engagement, how they perceive what they see of themselves and their community members, and how that’s reflected in decisions made about politics is important. And so, this gives us a great opportunity to see what the community needs are, and for them to have a space to voice those needs.”
“Our rights are a political outcome. Today, it would seem many of the political leaders have LGBTQ policy platforms that they are seeking our support. But of course, it hasn’t always been like this, and so queer people must be involved in the political [process], so there is the attention paid to the issues that are important to us,” says Qmunity fundraising coordinator Jason Hjalmarson.
“Historically, that’s been things like marriage rights or workplace discrimination laws, but today, it’s things like … [sexual orientations and gender identities] education in schools and access to gender-affirming care for trans people,” says Hjalmarson.
Qmunity solicited questions from LOUD Business, Rainbow Refugee, and the CBRC on topics including conversion therapy, support for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in rural communities, international LGBTQ+ refugees, including those in Afghanistan, and helping 2SLGBTQ+ seniors in seniors’ homes says to Hjalmarson,
Qmunity hopes the Proud2Vote town hall can create a space where the focus is specifically on the needs of 2SLGBTQ+ people.
“The mainstream media and parties don’t always do the best job of ensuring that issues that are relevant to queer people get coverage and attention at election time,” says Hjalmarson.
“So the purpose of the Proud2Vote coalition is to intentionally create space for these discussions, wherein we’ll get the candidates and the parties on record as to what their commitments to our community are.”
Gill says she hopes the town hall would allow the 2SLGBTQ+ community to have accessible engagement in the political process.
“We have everything between seniors, who don’t always have access to technology or the skills,’ she says.
“For us to host Proud2Vote also gives our community members … a sense of safety because many of the conversations can be very triggering, very traumatizing, and not reflective of what our community members need.
Qmunity was very excited to ask the candidates “clear, concise questions that are community needs-based,” Gill says.
A recording of the forum with the candidates’ responses can be found in its entirety on the Qmunity Facebook page.