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Archival photo of gay men
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The March to Equality

40 years of sexual equality rights in North America and around the world

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.

Toronto’s first Gay Day Picnic is held at Hanlan’s Point.

The American Psychiatric Association declares that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder.

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.

The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights draws more than 100,000 people.

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.”

The Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) is discovered.

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.

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.

Canada lifts a ban on homosexuals in the Canadian Forces.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” becomes law after U.S. President Bill Clinton’s vow to end discrimination in the American military falters.

Ellen DeGeneres becomes the first lead character on an American television show to come out as gay.

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.

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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