Winnipeg's LGBTQ sexual minorities activists win inclusion in the Provincial Human Rights legislation, 1984-1985


Efforts to reform the Human Rights Act to include the prohibition of sexual orientation discrimination in Manitoba's legislation.

Time period notes

A lobbying campaign followed the nonviolent action pressure during this time period

Time period

July, 1984 to May, 1985



Location City/State/Province

Winnipeg, Manitoba
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 1st segment

  • In the Canadian Human Rights Commision Office

Segment Length

Approximately 1 month 3 weeks

Notes on Methods

On August 2nd, 1987, The LGBTQ* community held its first pride parade to celebrate the integration of sexual orientation protection in the Human Rights Code.


Richard North, Winnipeg Gay Media Collective, Lobby for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation


Not Known

External allies

Not Known

Involvement of social elites

Not Known


Manitoba NDP Government, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Nonviolent responses of opponent

None known

Campaigner violence

None known

Repressive Violence

Not Known


Human Rights



Group characterization

members of LGBTQ community

Groups in 1st Segment

Winnipeg Gay Media Collective

Groups in 6th Segment

Richard North

Segment Length

Approximately 1 month 3 weeks

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

6 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


2 out of 3 points

Total points

9 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

In 1987, the Province of Manitoba amended the Human Rights Code to include protection of the LGBTQ* community from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Database Narrative

In the 1980’s, gay activists made their stand against sexual orientation discrimination in Manitoba. At this point in time, the members of the LGBTQ* were asking the Manitoba NDP government to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination under the existing Manitoba Human Rights Act.

In July 1984, four men from the group Winnipeg Gay Media Collective staged a demonstration at the Canadian Human Rights Commission Office in Winnipeg. The four men performed a sit-in at the office to protest the lack of pressure on the Federal Government by the Commissioner to amend the existing Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The four men, Ken Steffanson, Ken Boyce, David Shoemaker and Chuck Williams sat in the Commission office holding signs over their faces reading “If we show our faces we could lose our jobs.” The length of the sit-in is unknown.

A year later, long time gay rights activist Richard North found it was time to add pressure on the government and create public awareness of the human rights issue within the LGBTQ* community. On 8 March 1985, North embarked on a 59-day hunger strike to pressure the provincial NDP government to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination under the human rights legislation in Manitoba.  During his fast, North would appear at the Legislature to deliver open letters to the attorney general’s office and the NDP caucus chair. Ultimately, North ended his hunger strike because he was experiencing unexpected vision problems. The Manitoba NDP government had not yet made any changes to the existing legislation.

Shortly after North’s hunger strike ended, the Lobby for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (LISO) in Manitoba began its lobbying campaign by adding emphasis on the fact that the human rights act was not broad enough to provide protection from different forms of discrimination. The LISO argued that the existing Human Rights Act was unconstitutional based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  In response, the government was prompted to introduce Bill 47, creating the new human rights code that referenced the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This new legislation included that sexual orientation was a prohibited ground of discrimination. Victory occurred in July 1987 when the Manitoba Human Rights Act was replaced with the Manitoba Human Rights Code.

On 2 August 1987, approximately 250 people attended the first annual Pride Parade which was held to celebrate the inclusion of gay rights in the Manitoba Human Rights Code.


Canadian Human Rights Commission Sit-In. (1984, July ??). Retrieved March 26, 2013, from University of Manitoba Digital Archives:
Koymasky, A., & Koymasky, M. (2004, December 20). Biographies: Richard North. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from The Living Room:
Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives- Gay Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2013, from University of Manitoba Libraries:
Pride Winnipeg. (2012, May 22). Retrieved March 27, 2013, from Pride Winnipeg:
Scott. (2012, August 29). Richard North. Retrieved March 25, 2013, from Talking Radical:
United Church of Winnipeg. (n.d.). Welcoming Congregation. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg:
(2002). Between Queer and Mainstream. In T. Warner, Never Going Back: A History of Queer Activism in Canada (pp. 200-202). Toronto: Universtiy of Toronto Press.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Amanda Pratt, 03/04/2013