This past February 19 was the International Day of Pink, a day where people all over the world stood up to bullying, prejudice, discrimination and homophobia.
The day started a few years ago, at a Nova Scotia high school, when a teen wore a pink shirt to school. A few of his schoolmates, who assumed his choice of clothing branded him as a homosexual, ridiculed the child.
Soon after the teen’s fellow peers decided to stand up to this prejudice, and all wore pink shirts to school, in a stand against the bullies.
The day is of much importance to students especially, since many gay teens are the subject of prejudice and discrimination in both high school and university.
Outside of high school and university, there is a lot of prejudice against gays in Canadian society. For example, a big story right now is Health Canada’s strict rules that make it near impossible for gay men to donate organs.
And now, since the rules were imposed, organ donations have dropped. Health Canada claims there is no evidence that the decline is in direct relation to the rules against gay men, which many protesters refer to as the “homophobic rule.”
The rules were imposed in December of 2007, quietly, when Health Canada, without any announcements, decided that any man who had had sex once with another man in the last five years would be banned from donating organs. The board already has a rule in place that prevents a man who has had sex with another man, even only once since 1979, from donating blood.
Gary Levy, the director of Canada’s largest organ transplant program at the Toronto University Health Network said that the drop in organ donations caused deaths in Canada, up to “150” he said.
He also said that he worked with the federal government trying to prevent the ruling, specifically telling them that it did nothing to ensure safety.
The organs aren’t officially banned, since men who haven’t had sex with another man in five years are free to donate. But that means all sexually active gay men, regardless of their HIV status, are not allowed to donate. That is certainly discrimination, especially if the director of the largest organ transplant program in Canada says these rules to nothing to ensure safety or increase it.
Standing Against Queer Discrimination, a grassroots anti-prejudice organization has taken a real issue with this ruling.
Health Canada issued a statement saying that the measures were taken to “reassure the public.”
SAQD takes particular issue with this statement, taking it as referring to gay men as a dangerous societal group.
I tore up my donors card after this.