Summer 2009
The March to Equality

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.

LGBTOUT has created a more U of T-specific timeline of the gay rights movement

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.


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