Growing up during the turn of one century and the beginning of another, it’s been pretty amazing to see how we’ve progressed in the fight for equal rights. I was a 10-year-old when same-sex marriage became legal, and in social studies class we learned about the plight and freedom of slaves in America, which impacted me greatly.
Although we still have a way to go, we can say that many major victories have been won in achieving an equal Canadian society. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms outlines freedom for all people, no matter what race, creed, sexuality, or religion — and that is fair and just.
Last week the Abbotsford City Council decided to fly the Pride flag at City Hall in support of LGBTQ people, and to mark the commencement of the Fraser Valley Pride Celebration. Obviously for many Canadians, this act marks another step in the right direction for equality. For others, such as the “Citizens for a Morally Strong Abbotsford,” they feel that it somehow impedes their own happiness, and contributes to the moral decay of society.
With that being said, basically everything was set for me to write a scathing article on how illogical this type of opposition is, because I personally believe in equal rights for everyone. However, I realized that because I do believe in equal rights, there’s a bigger problem at the heart of this situation.
The beauty of Canada is that our opinions can be shared and debated.
As a Canadian citizen, the right to freedom of speech is something I don’t take for granted. We all have the right to express different opinions and I’m sure everyone would agree that’s how it should be. The real issue is that when people don’t agree with you it most often is perceived as discrimination or ‘hate.’
What these Bible thumpers are doing is simply exercising their civil liberties, and as much as I might disagree with the ignorance behind some of their claims, I believe that they should be able to express those opinions without labels such as “hate” and “slander.”
In general, people can be very sensitive. Whenever the subject of LGBTQ or any minority rights are brought up, it always triggers strong reactions. But that’s the beauty of Canada: our opinions can be shared and debated, even if some people tend to forget this fact. If there is something you disagree with, you can vote to change it.
Clichés aside, “hate” is a strong word, to the point of it being lazily overused by many today to describe anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Once you start to accuse someone of “hate” due to a difference in opinion, rather than in the effort to prevent someone from infringing on your rights, you have infringed on theirs.
As the great writer Oscar Wilde once said, “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”