“It is an honor and a privilege to be named to this role,” said Boissonnault in a statement. “I will work hard with the prime minister and the LGBTQ2 community to advance and protect their rights and address historical injustices they have endured.”
His appointment came just a day after the Liberal government announced its intentions to repeal Section 159 of the Criminal Code. At present, anal sex is illegal below the age of 18, unless it is between a man and his wife. With the age of consent for sexual activity is 16, many see this law as discriminatory.
“We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada — from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act,” Trudeau said in a statement.
May 2016 saw the tabling of Bill C-16, which recognizes and reduces the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes.
“We’ve only begun to address trans rights and we still have a way to go. Now, with Mr. Boissonnault, we have a commitment and a champion,” Patrick, a Canadian citizen, told the Washington Blade.
Boissonnault will be working with LGBT organizations, including Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, to promote equality for the LGBT community.
Egale Canada, a national advocacy group promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans human rights, in June released “The Just Society Report” describing the types of discrimination faced by Canada’s LGBT community.
Much of Boissonnault’s role will be in response to that report.
“I look forward to collaborating closely with Egale and other organizations in the coming months to advance the government’s agenda for equality,” said Boissonnault, who will be retaining his current duties as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, who also contributed to the report, welcomed the announcement.
“We look forward to a discussion with the special advisor about how to best move forward with all of the report’s recommendations, including those relating to repealing harmful laws related to sex work and ending the overly broad, unjust criminalization of … HIV,” Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Executive Director Richard Elliott said in a statement.
As well as ensuring all Canadian citizens are treated equally and with respect, Boissonnault will work with other governments and civil society organizations, actively promoting LGBT rights on the international stage.
“The fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work still needs to be done,” Trudeau concluded. “Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.”
Patrick shares these sentiments.
“When I think about how far Canada has come in the last 15 years on LGBTQ2 issues, it makes me proud to be Canadian,” he said.
Boissonnault’s appointment comes nearly a year and a half after Randy Berry became the first U.S. special envoy for LGBT rights.