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FLASHBACK: Landmark Human Rights Decision Rules The City Of Hamilton Was Discriminatory (March 2, 1995)

March 2, 1995: Today in LGBTQ+ history…

An Ontario Human Rights Commission decision that was released on March 2, 1995, found that then Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow discriminated against homosexuals by refusing to proclaim Gay Pride Week in Hamilton back in 1991.

In 1991, Pride Hamilton was launched by the city’s Gay And Lesbian Alliance (GALA), but Morrow refused to issue a civic proclamation for the event, citing a lack of consensus in Hamilton City Council. GALA filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which was heard in 1994. The following year, the commission ruled that Morrow’s refusal to issue a proclamation was discriminatory.

The 26-page decision in the case, which was released on March 2, 1995, said Morrow contravened the Ontario Human Rights Act by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Morrow was ordered to pay $5,000 in damages to GALA and to issue the proclamation in 1995 if it was requested. Morrow issued a proclamation that year, but concurrently city council passed a ban on all further civic proclamations for any events at all.

For years, Hamilton didn’t issue proclamations about Gay Pride Week…or anything else. Members of the governance review subcommittee reviewed the issue in 2016 and decided to stick with the 1995 decision. Finally, Bob Wade, Morrow’s successor as mayor, reinstated civic proclamations, and issued a civic proclamation of the event in 2001.

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