We are discussing amendments to the human rights act. We deal here not with abstractions but with people, with humans. Gays and lesbians are not abstractions. They are very real, with very real entitlements to dignity and respect. They are our brothers and our sisters. They are our sons and our daughters, our neighbours and our friends. They are our colleagues.
Justice Minister Allan Rock, House of Commons, 30 April 1996
For a decade, justice ministers had promised to add the two words "sexual orientation" to the Canadian Human Rights Act in order to prohibit discrimination against lesbians and gays in areas covered by federal jurisdiction. For just as long, the fulfillment of such promises was postponed repeatedly. Finally, in the spring of 1996, Liberal justice minister Allan Rock was given the go-ahead to introduce Bill C-33 before the House of Commons. Soon it was passed into law, and the parliamentary opposition to gay rights was left, at least for the moment, tattered and discredited.
Whatever the limitations of legal and statutory change, Canadian lesbians and gays have won more progress through political and legal systems than their coun-