Towards equality
OutNorth applauds national bill on gay rights

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 16/00) - OutNorth is giving two thumbs up to the federal government's move to bring the law in line with the principle of equal rights for all.

Introduced in the House of Commons last week, the Federal Omnibus Bill includes revisions of 60 federal statutes.

"As part of a community and as president of OutNorth, I see this as a very excellent step toward equality," said OutNorth president Andrea Markowski.

The proposed changes would entitle same-sex couples to claim a host of benefits and rights long available to married heterosexual couples and those in a common law relationship.

Changes include allowing same-sex survivors to claim pension benefits accumulated by their deceased partners, requiring same-sex spouses to pay child support upon the break up of a relationship, claiming of tax deductions formerly available to heterosexual couples and immigration sponsorship of same-sex spouses.

Markowski said it's about time the territorial government got moving in the same direction.

"Issues of equality should always be high up on the agenda (of government)," said Markowski. She noted the NWT, unlike the provinces, does not have its own human rights legislation. The Fair Practices Act does not protect the same range of rights as a human rights act, Markowski added.

Markowski said during the election campaigning, a number of MLAs made a commitment to work toward equal rights for gays in the North. She said OutNorth will holding them to those commitments.