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It is fitting that the first National political Party to sponsor a GLBTQ club is the Liberal Party of Canada.

It was the Liberal Party under Trudeau that erased homosexuality from the criminal code. It was the Liberal Party that brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which, under section 15, enshrined the right to equality under law for minority groups. It was the Liberal Party that created the Court Challenges Program, which funded, and gave access to justice, to GLBTQ groups who sought de jure Charter equality. And it was the Liberal Party that step by step eventually implemented the legislative changes that culminated in “equal marriage”.

When I was first asked to run for Office by Prime Minister Chretien, I agreed to do so, if I could get his commitment to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground for discrimination. He promised. I ran and he kept that promise. It was an honour for me to be in his Cabinet committee that shaped all of the consequent legislation which eventually gave full equality to gays and lesbians.

I pushed for these changes for valid reasons. As a physician, I saw for myself, the mental, physical and pscho-social impact on my GLBT patients caused by lack of equal access to the same health benefits enjoyed by heterosexual common law couples and individuals; I saw the depression among gay youth, the high levels of suicide. I saw the emotional pain that faced same sex partners when one of them was denied the right, enjoyed by all heterosexual couples, to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements for a terminally ill partner.

For me, as a minority woman, a physician and a liberal who believed firmly in the Charter and rule of law, this was clear cut discrimination under law, against a minority group, based on its particular difference: sexual orientation. Fortunately, my Party and its Prime minister of the day, Jean Chretien, the Charter negotiator, felt the same way.

To be able to be a key player in this historic, legislative achievement, was for me a confirmation of the role of the MP in achieving change to benefit society.