P.A. Pride: 50 years of homosexuality decriminalization shows ‘small steps’

Prince Albert Pride president Marc Roberts leads the 2018 Pride Parade on June 9, 2018. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“The nature of the law has prompted new social developments that we as a country have to address.”

– Marc Roberts, Prince Albert Pride

Up until 1969, homosexuality came in exchange with prison time.

Fifty years since the decriminalization of homosexuality sparked many emotions for Prince Albert Pride’s Marc Roberts, who came out as gay at eight years old.

He’s never felt marginalized, yet knows people alike in the early colonial era were even sentenced to death for having gay sex.

“Since then we’ve grown as a country, we’ve gone through more and more acceptance,” said Roberts.

Same-sex marriage was also legalized in 2005.

However, he said the laws don’t fix everything when it comes to discrimination of the LGBTQ community.

“It hasn’t gone away. It’s still there,” he said.

Many are still being abused, and even killed, for their identities.

When Prince Albert Pride began, Roberts said there were some incidents of vandalism on public properties.

He emphasized how more and more people are transgender, which national laws don’t acknowledge.

“At the time it was like, ‘Hey, we have a guy who wants to have sex with a guy…now all the sudden you have ‘I’m a biological female who identifies as a male because I believe that in my heart and in my soul,’” explained Roberts.

“With how the laws were originally set up, it talked about males and females, not men and women,” he said. “The nature of the law has prompted new social developments that we as a country have to address.”

One being the struggle with a lack of gender neutral washrooms.

Roberts said there’s a lot of misunderstandings surrounding the topic: “A lot of people say ‘Oh, it’s just men in women’s bathrooms who are perverts.’”

But there have been “small steps.”

Many provinces, including Saskatchewan, have made the option of putting an ‘X’ on your driver’s license instead of male or female.

Additionally, Roberts said Prince Albert is a fairly understanding community.

He said many schools have gender neutral washrooms and he has no experience with discrimination.

“I feel that it’s an accepting community no matter what your personal expression is, whether it’s a different race, a different heritage,” said Roberts.

“It’s just a matter of slow acceptance and understanding.”

On Tuesday evening, Prince Albert Pride hosted their own ‘Show Me Your Colours’ event to mark the milestone of half a decade of homosexuality being decriminalized.

The Pride Parade is coming up on June 1, which will start at Court of Queen’s Bench at noon.

Roberts emphasized that you do not have to identify as LGBTQ to participate or march and that they welcome allies.