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Commentary: A deep divide over Pride

Group calls for UCP MLAs to be banned from Pride events

While political parties are often vocal and sometimes markedly critical of their rivals over issues of the day, those interactions are usually conducted with decorum and civility.

In the Alberta, for example, the Smith government and the official NDP Opposition have often squared off over things such as pension reform, policing, health care and education.

And, by and large, those debates have been respectful and polite, with both sides usually agreeing to disagree while carrying on with the business of running the province.

Yet the current public debate over 2SLGBTQ+ rights and government policies impacting the Albertans who include themselves in that community is a different story altogether.

The Smith government has introduced legislation that, if passed, would ban top and bottom gender reassignment surgeries for minors aged 17 and under, and would forbid access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy for gender reassignment or affirmation for most youth 15 years of age and under.

“We want to make sure parents have the opportunity to be active in the lives of their children,” said Sundre-area MLA and cabinet minister Jason Nixon.

In response to the government’s plans, Queer Citizens United, a coalition representing the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Alberta, has called for all UCP MLAs to be banned from Pride events.

“They are trying to appeal to their extremely radicalized right-wing base by attacking queer people,” organization officials say. “They are a violently discriminatory and homophobic and transphobic party.”

For her part, NDP leader Rachel Notley is calling on Albertans to mark Pride Month by voicing opposition to the UCP’s “platforming of harmful and discriminatory voices” regarding the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“Now, more than ever, we must unite in hyper vigilance against Smith’s hateful, ideologically-driven, bullying of 2SLGBTQ+ Albertans,” said Notley.

“Danielle Smith has specifically targeted the 2SLGBTQ+ community, especially trans Albertans, through proposed legislation, the spread of misinformation.”

With words such as attacking, hate, bullying, homophobic, transphobic, violence and discrimination now being used, the battle over 2SLGBTQ+ rights in Alberta has reached a fever pitch.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.

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