CLGRO Mission Statement
The Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO) is an organization composed of groups and individuals who are committed to working towards feminism and bisexual, lesbian, and gay liberation by engaging in public struggle for full human rights, by promoting diversity and access, and by strengthening cooperative networks for lesbian, gay, and bisexual activism.
“To me, CLGRO is a group that goes on working for my rights, that hangs in there and tries to make life better for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals here in Ontario.”
CLGRO is a coalition of some 24 groups and hundreds of individual members in all parts of the province. Founded early in 1975, CLGRO has concentrated its efforts in the areas of grassroots organizing, public education, and governmental lobbying.
“The important thing to me about working with CLGRO is meeting all those other women and men who keep the groups alive around the province – the backbone of our community.”
Twelve years of active campaigning to have ordinary human rights protection for lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men included in the Ontario Human Rights Code finally resulted in success in December 1986. Bill 7 passed, and the words “sexual orientation” were added to the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Code. And we are still liaising with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to ensure that education on issues of sexual orientation is part of their outreach work.
But CLGRO is always active in many areas at once. We want to eliminate prejudice in workplaces. We want bias-free education for our children and counselling in the schools for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. We want same-sex relationships recognized on the same terms as heterosexual relationships; we want employment and other benefits to be equally available to same-sex couples.
But we want more than that – we want to be able to be the way we are, not just to be treated well if we behave like the heterosexual norm. CLGRO is working for us to be able to define for ourselves what our needs are, our desires, and our ambitions.
“I’m working with CLGRO because I want the world to change. I want my children to grow up feeling good about their gay parents and knowing for themselves that they are free to be whoever they are.”
And, nearly 20 years after our beginning, we are still consistently involved in outreach and organizing to make sure that there are resources available for those in communities of all sizes, in all parts of Ontario.
“I work with the group here in Sudbury and my commitments mean I can’t travel to meetings, but I like to get the CLGRO newsletter and see what’s going on in other groups. We’ve gotten a lot of good ideas that way.”
The purpose of the Coalition is to fight for liberation for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. We would know we had fulfilled this aim if no one were ever afraid to be gay and if there were no social or economic consequences attached to being known to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual in the society we live in. This is not presently the case.
“I’m not out where I live, only to a few close friends, so I like to support the work CLGRO is doing on our behalf. That way, I can still help things happen.”
In our groups and committees, as well as at our quarterly steering committee meetings, CLGRO members are still committed to working together, creating the resources to bring about acceptance, to bring about change. As the backlash sets in, it is even more important that we keep up the pressure.
Since about half the gay population is composed of women, we necessarily have a commitment to fighting sexism, and we support the women’s movement on issues such as equal pay, ending violence against women, and a woman’s right to choose.
Lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are to be found among all other minority groups, too, and we have a commitment to dealing with racism, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice.
“I used to think I couldn’t do anything, that things might change if I just waited. But now I see how I can work to make things change. Things are going to get better, a lot better!”
CLGRO has become a powerful lobbying force, a voice for Ontario’s lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. But we need you, so we can work for our rights – together.