40 years of sexual equality rights in North America and around the world
1969 The Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village in New York City launch the modern gay-rights movement.
Canada decriminalizes homosexual acts for consenting adults over 21.
1971 Toronto’s first Gay Day Picnic is held at Hanlan’s Point.
1973 The American Psychiatric Association declares that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder.
1977 Quebec becomes the first major jurisdiction in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Canada lifts an immigration ban on homosexual men.
1979 The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights draws more than 100,000 people.
1982 The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the “right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.” It does not explicitly protect sexual orientation, but, in 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada rules that sexual orientation should be “read in.”
1983 The Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) is discovered.
1987 ACT UP is founded.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is unveiled.
1988 Canada’s Svend Robinson becomes the country’s first openly gay MP.
The United Church of Canada becomes the first church in Canada to allow the ordination of gays and lesbians.
1989 Denmark becomes the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex unions.
1991 The City of Toronto officially proclaims Pride Day for the first time.
1992 Canada lifts a ban on homosexuals in the Canadian Forces.
1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” becomes law after U.S. President Bill Clinton’s vow to end discrimination in the American military falters.
1997 Ellen DeGeneres becomes the first lead character on an American television show to come out as gay.
2001 Holland becomes the first country to extend marriage to same-sex couples; Belgium follows a year later.
Libby Davies of Vancouver becomes Canada’s first openly lesbian Member of Parliament.
2003 British Columbia and Ontario begin marrying same-sex couples.
2005 Canada becomes the fourth country to officially sanction gay marriage nationwide.