Quebec Creates Registry to Track Homophobia
A gay helpline based in Montreal, Quebec, has created a new registry, which will be funded by the Quebec Justice Department, that will track homophobic incidents around the province, the Montreal Gazette reported.
Officials from the gay helpline, called Gai Ecoute, say the goal of the new registry is to raise awareness about homophobia in Quebec, even though the province is known for its acceptance of the LGBT community and gay rights.
The president of the helpline, Laurent McCutcheon, says that homophobia still exists in Quebec.
"The more visible (gays) are, the more the anti-gay types come out of the woodwork," McCutcheon said.
The article notes that the registry, which is anonymous and confidential, may be the first of its kind in the world. Individuals who call in can report acts ranging from anti-gay slurs in schools to psychological harassment in a workplace and physical attacks against members of the LGBT community.
The registry could have helped a man named Francois, who recently became the victim of homophobia after he was kicked out of a straight bar.
Francois, who is gay and in his mid 40s, and a straight coworker had a few drinks at a bar in downtown Montreal. After about 45 minutes at the pub, they complained that their drinks didn't have alcohol. Instead of getting the proper service, three doormen kicked them out of the bar and threw them down the stairs and onto the street.
"We don't want you here," they were told. "F---ing gays!" a doorman yelled.
The two men and the bar owner will discuss the incident in a mediation session with the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
"I was really humiliated," Francois told the newspaper. "It was the most violent thing in my life."
McCutcheon told the publication that the registry will not be a homophobia police.
"We will refer people (who fill out the registry's forms) to existing resources, like youth protection officials, the human rights commission and the police," he said. "We do not plan to intervene directly."
The president also said that he predicts that there will be hundreds of people who call and complain about anti-gay incidents.
"We notice it especially in calls from outside of Montreal, in smaller communities. Sometimes it's a student who got mocked at school or a teenager with parents threatening to throw the young person out."
In 2014, the group will analyze the data they receive and make recommendations to help stop homophobic attacks. The Quebec Justice Department is funding the registry with $60,000 and the article points out that the department has set aside $7.1 million to fight homophobia over five years.
Alain Gagnon, the Montreal police commander of Station 22, which protects the Gay Village, told the Montreal Gazette the registry may be able to help victims and witnesses of anti-gay acts.
"Not all hurtful things that are said are illegal," Gagnon said. "Some things may just be part of a person's freedom of speech. But this registry will help (police) understand what is going on province-wide."