Quebec Hopes To Say Adieu To Homophobia With $7.5 Million Media Campaign

A new series of TV ads aimed at tackling anti-gay stereotypes have begun airing in Quebec, part of a $7.5 million dollar campaign to stamp out homophobia in the Canadian province.

Launched March 3, the public-service announcements depict everyday scenes that force viewers to question how open-minded they really are when it comes to homosexuality. In one clip (above) a man greets his partner at the icone_camph_web-aairport—it’s only in the last few second that we realize his partner is another man. In a second PSA, a woman returns home to a surprise party—and again, at the end, we see her partner is female.

As the scenes end, a narrator asks “Does this change what you were thinking 20 seconds ago?”

The television ads—as well as an English-language radio spot and a Fight Homophobia website—are part of a larger five-year plan by 11 government departments to attack anti-gay bias. (Other plans include establishing an office dedicated to combating homophobia and increasing financial support for LGBT groups.

The PSAs are relative subtle—not addressing blood-in-the streets, but rather more passive forms of homophobia and stereotyping. “We learned in our research that Quebec is viewed as open to sexual diversity,” said Martine Delagrave, who helped develop the commercials. “But homophobia still exists and it still exists in Quebec. Our idea for a first campaign was to shed some light, to have some awareness about how open we really are.”

Provincial Justice Minister Bertrand St-Arnaud says the ad campaign is the first of its kind in North America.

There were a handful of complaints—nine in all—mostly about the sight of two men and two women kissing in a government PSA. “It’s not a campaign that has a goal to shock,” explained Delagrave. “It’s a Quebec government campaign, it’s supposed to be positive.”

More ads, focusing on issues like same-sex parenting, are expected in 2014.

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  • Shanestud

    Quebec has had federal same-sex marriage since 2005 and even before that had strong anti-gay discrimination laws. Why does this sort of progressive pro-gay human rights initiatives always seem to happen in Canada? Aren’t we supposed to be the “freest country in the world?

  • Ruhlmann

    As a French Canadian I realised very early that it was easier for me to come out than it was for most English speaking LGBT. I came out to my family at 14 in 1970 and there was never a bad moment for me from anyone in my immediate and extended family. This is true for two male and one female cousins of mine. I think the French are just a lot more relaxed about sex period and it telegraphs to sexual minorities as well.

    My mother said to me after a moments pause “As long as you don’t stay up all night and eat right I don’t care what you are. It’s your life and you have to be happy. You’ll always be my son.” This was followed by a hug and a kiss. Once I was older and was meeting other gay and lesbian men and women I was shocked at some of the stories I was told by people who had been beaten, thrown out of the house and became dead to their families.

  • Billysees

    @Ruhlmann: 2

    You’ve got a great testimony here.

    Mine is similar.

    It is shocking to listen to the stories of those less fortunate.

    What a great Mom you’ve got.

  • Ruhlmann

    @Billysees: Thank you yes I do have a great mother. All of my friends called her ma. The worst thing you could be in life as far as she was concerned was judgmental. She also had a high regard for our Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Pierre Elliot Trudeau who said “government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation” and who struck down the anti gay laws on the books since Canada was a Dominion. The entire country was suddenly asking itself how it felt about the issue and decided there were more pressing issues to deal with. It isn’t perfect up here certainly but to see my social group rise up from marginalisation to full equality in forty years is wonderful and I think for a lot of us a balance or consolation to rejection by family.

  • Billysees

    @Ruhlmann: 4

    Being unjustly judgmental is a worst thing indeed.

    I remember your Prime Minister Trudeau. “Good liberals have mature attitudes” is an attitude of mine and I recall him as being such a person.

    I’ve had the pleasure of observing the evolution of gay acceptance and equality here in my hometown, a major east coast city, since 1972 and think it’s been quite impressive though still a long and winding road towards the ideal.

    Yes, it is grand that our societies have accepted our “social group”, as you would say, to the extent they have. And it is wonderful too as a balance and consolation to being rejected by family and others.

    You’ve described it well here.

    LGBT acceptance as individuals and married families will always be the great work before us all.

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