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Gay Friendly Canada

Canada, one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBTQ rights, has also made great strides over the years in support of LGBTQ athletes in sport.

One of the first milestones for Canada was winning the bid to host Gay Games III in Vancouver. These games were only the third Gay Games ever held and were also the first to be held outside of San Francisco. Over seven thousand athletes took part in the “Celebration” 1990 twenty-seven sporting competitions and the opening and closing ceremonies took place in BC Place Stadium, twenty years before the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. 

Since that time, Canada has seen the development of a wide range of independent LGBTQ sporting organizations throughout the country, as well as major support from corporations and mainstream sporting organizations. We have highlighted a number of them in this edition.

Although much progress has been made, we must however note that there are still challenges being addressed, such as gender identity issues for the transgender community, a clash between LGBTQ and religious freedom and addressing bullying in schools. 

To help tackle these issues, collaborations, such as those between Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (Egale), the You Can Play Project (YCP) and the Canadian Olympic Committee, are making headway. The #ONETEAM Athlete Ambassador Program, will bring Olympic Ambassadors to schools across Canada to talk about mental fitness and equality in sport, and will include LGBTQ athletes and allies, for example.

Since the first Pride House at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Pride Houses have been showcased at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto in 2015, FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015TM in Vancouver, with plans underway to host a Pride House at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics in 2016.

2016 will also see the first Gay Ski Weekend to be held in Atlantic Canada, on the west coast of Newfoundland and Edmonton will be host city for the 2016 IGLA Championships, a Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Festival, with a full schedule of international competition, social events at major attractions and some of the largest dance parties of the year in Western Canada.

LGBT tourism continues to be recognized as a priority travel segment for a number of Canadian tourism organizations and LGBTQ sports are in the spotlight. Representatives can be met face-to-face at many domestic and international LGBTQ travel expos, travel conventions, Pride events and film festivals, as well as sporting events, year-round. International travel surveys also continue to highlight Canada as a preferred year-round destination of choice by many LGBTQ travellers. 

This is an amazing time to visit Canada, where people can openly be who they are, without fear of legal discrimination in the workplace, where they live, or where they play. Bravo Canada!


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