ADVOCACY AND CALLS TO ACTION

Our Advocacy Commitment

The Senior Pride Network (Toronto) asserts and advocates for the human, economic, social and cultural rights of 2 Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex and other (2SLGBTTQI+) elders, seniors and older persons.  In doing so, we recognize that the life and aging experiences of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons vary significantly because of their race, gender, sex and other identities. Many 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons, including 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons who identify as Black, indigenous, people of colour, lesbians, transgender and persons with disabilities, or who came to Canada as immigrants or refugees, live at the intersections of two or more of these identities.

The Senior Pride Network (Toronto) envisions a series of communities of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons that are respectful, affirming, supportive, safe and healthy.  We seek to eradicate all forms of oppression including homophobia, heterosexism, lesbophobia, transphobia, biphobia, sexism, cissexism, racism, antisemitism, settler colonialism, xenophobia, islamophobia, ableism and ageism.  We demand the right of all 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons to live their lives free from discrimination, harassment, reprisal, bullying, intimidation, victimization, stigmatization, silencing, being marginalized or being made invisible.  

Advocating for 2SLGBTTQI+ Elders, Seniors and Older Persons

2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons are an exceptionally diverse group. The life experiences and present realities of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have been shaped not just by being 2SLGBTTQI+, but also by their other identities.

Throughout their lives, 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have had to cope with stigma and discrimination in various forms that have negatively impacted their wellness and their economic and social well-being.  Many have been or have risked being discriminated against in employment, housing and access to services, denied the right to have custody of their children, or denied legal and societal recognition of their same-sex spousal relationships.

Some 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have been convicted of criminal offences, or perhaps even imprisoned, for engaging in consensual sex.  Many 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have been victims of police harassment or assaults. Being victims of violent physical assaults and hate crimes, or being persecuted and tormented by others are also among the life experiences of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.  

Other 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have had treatments such as electroshock therapy imposed on them for “sexual orientation disorder” or “gender identity disorder”, or otherwise have been subjected to therapies and treatments purported to cure, suppress or change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  Depression, anxiety, abuse of drugs and/or alcohol, and suicidal thoughts or attempts, are common among 2SLGBTTQI+ populations because of discrimination, inequality, social stigma and social isolation.

Many 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have experienced prolonged poverty or financial insecurity, especially lesbians, bisexual and trans women, 2 Spirit persons and LGBTTQI+ people of colour.  Homelessness and lack of affordable, accessible housing are particular vulnerabilities for 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons, particularly transgender and 2 Spirit persons.

HIV positive 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons who survived the HIV/AIDS health crisis of earlier decades are now at high risk for HIV/AIDS-related co-morbidities and depression.  More than a few older 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have experienced multiple losses and are coping with significant grief.

2 Spirit elders, like all Indigenous peoples, have experienced higher rates of personal trauma, such as assaults and abuse, incarceration and systemic racism.  They have lived with the horrific legacy of colonization, attempts by Christian churches to deny or suppress Indigenous spiritualities and the residential school system in Canada.

2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older people, and their partners or spouses, often face discriminatory or inequitable treatment from medical, social service and home care providers and in assisted living, residential and long-term care facilities.  2SLGBTTQI+ seniors fearing discrimination or ill-treatment will often avoid seeking social services and healthcare support when they need them.

2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons, especially those experiencing dementia/Alzheimer’s, are often in vulnerable or risky situations because of their use of chosen names, preferred pronouns, how they express themselves or converse with other 2SLGBTTQI+ persons, how they dress or accessorize, or how they act or interact (e.g. campy) with other people.

Many 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons have experienced rejection from family, spouses and children and increasingly rely on chosen families to provide care and nurturing relationships and to build support networks.  Too often, 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons are forced to live in facilities and care homes in which there is a presumption that every resident is heterosexual and that gender identity and gender expression equate with the sex or gender assigned at birth.

Social isolation and lack of support systems are other significant factors that may negatively impact the health and well-being of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.  Opportunities to meet other older 2SLGBTTQI+ people for social and cultural interaction are limited. Programs, activities and events specifically geared toward 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons are rare.  In general, 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons are more likely to lack adequate social support, in particular emotional support, than elders, seniors and older persons who identify as heterosexual.

Because of the diversity of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons and their life experiences, advocating on their behalf requires adopting an intersectional approach.  An intersectional approach recognizes, asserts and positively addresses the multiple identities and individual experiences that have shaped the lives and influence the current needs and concerns of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.

How We Advocate for 2SLGBTTQI+ Elders, Seniors and Older Persons

The Senior Pride Network (Toronto) advocates with various levels of government, service providers, financial bodies and others regarding the needs and issues faced by 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons. We promote healthy public policy, the provision of funding of appropriate services and programs, and respectful, positive, caring environments for 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons. Positions of Senior Pride Network (Toronto) advocacy are framed positively and adhere to the SPN mission, vision, values and advocacy strategy approved by the SPN members.  We are not aligned with or partisan towards any political party or ideology.

Our approach to advocating on behalf of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons encompasses various tactics and methods that include:  working in coalitions or collaboration with other civil society groups; taking a leadership role as appropriate on specific issues or initiatives; participating in consultative or liaison processes, forums or roundtables of government or other civil society organizations; engaging in public discussion, debate and education; conducting research and public awareness campaigns on issues important to or affecting 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons; making submissions and representations to governments, legislators and public agencies and commissions; advocating for legislative change and changes to public policies or programs; organizing conferences and community forums or consultations; accessing the media to speak out about, advocate for, or provide commentary and SPN  positions regarding issues important to or affecting 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons; engaging in advocacy campaigns or actions that may include such means as petitions, letter-writing, and meeting with legislators and government officials; and, as deemed appropriate, public actions such as rallies and calls to action.  In all matters and at all times, the SPN advocacy is affirming, assertive and peaceful, and is organized and conducted from an intersectional, anti-oppression and equity-seeking framework.

Declaration of the Rights of 2SLGBTTQI+ Elders, Seniors and Older Persons

In keeping with the Canadian and provincial and territorial human rights codes/acts and on behalf of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons, we, The Senior Pride Network (Toronto), declare:
  • The right to be treated with respect, kindness, caring and compassion. 
  • The right to be, to identify as, and to live openly and proudly as, 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons wherever we reside or are housed.
  • The right to full enjoyment of all human, economic, social and cultural rights of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons without any form of discrimination.
  • The right to freedom of expression and opinion of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.
  • The right of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons to personal liberty and a full, independent and autonomous life.
  • The right to privacy and intimacy of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.
  • The right of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons to general and sexual health.

Call to Action for 2SLGBTTQI+ Elders, Seniors and Older Persons

On behalf of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons, we, The Senior Price Network (Toronto) call for:
  • All 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons to be treated wtih respect, kindness, caring and compassion.
  • Specific inclusion of service and care needs of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons within the seniors strategies and the public health promotion strategies and programs of federal, provincial and municipal governments. 
  • Financial, housing, social and legal supports which attend and respond to the individual needs of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.
  • Ending physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological abuse of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.
  • Empowering 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons to safeguard their physical, emotional, psychological and sexual well being.
  • Programs, policies and practices that prevent the abandonment, neglect, and isolation of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons and encourage their full social inclusion and participation within an enabling environment.
  • Programs, policies and practices that enable 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons to participate in intergenerational activities that strengthen solidarity and mutual support.
  • Collaboration with 2SLGBTTQI+ individuals and organizations by government and by agencies and organizations that serve and address the needs of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons populations.
  • Specific care and service needs of 2SLGBTTQI+ persons to be assessed and addressed and measures be implemented to respond to those needs by ensuring qualified service providers and employees are suitably trained about the rights and needs of 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.

Current SPN Calls to Action

The Senior Pride Network (Toronto) periodically issues specific calls to action or makes submissions to governments, regulators, service providers and other bodies regarding the needs and issues faced by 2SLGBTTQI+ elders, seniors and older persons.