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The first gay march

The Story


A group of about 100 men and women gathers in support of a brief called "We Demand," which was submitted to the federal government one week earlier. Marchers carry signs and chant "Two-four-six-eight! Gay is just as good as straight!" as they walk to Parliament Hill in the pouring rain. It's the first large-scale public protest for gay rights in Canada, and the CBC sends a reporter to cover it.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Aug. 28, 1971
Reporter: Arthur Lewis
Duration: 1:42

Did You know?


• The "We Demand" brief was a 13-page document with ten points calling for changes to the law and public policy regarding gays and lesbians. Among other requests, it asked that gays be permitted to serve in the military, that the terms "gross indecency" and "indecent act" be removed from the Criminal Code and replaced with specific offences, and that all references to homosexuals be removed from the Immigration Act.

• After the march, participants listened to speakers from gay organizations in Toronto, Montreal and the United States.

• The march was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the day the Omnibus Bill came into effect. Bill C-150, which became law on Aug. 28, 1969, decriminalized private consensual homosexual activity between people over age 21.

• Activists in Vancouver marched on their City Hall in solidarity with the Ottawa group, attracting a sympathetic crowd of about 150.


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