Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada: Social Movements and Equality-Seeking, 1971-1995

By Miriam Smith

© 1999

To the expanding literature on lesbian and gay rights in Canada, Miriam Smith contributes this fascinating analysis of trends in the movement toward equality for sexual minorities in the last quarter of a century. Using archival material that has largely been ignored, as well as interviews with Canadian activists, Smith investigates the ways in which the lesbian and gay movement has changed in response to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Smith demonstrates that equality-seeking was well entrenched as a strategy and ideology in lesbian and gay rights networks prior to the existence of the Charter. However, in the wake of the Charter, the movement has shifted from a strategy primarily based on building a social movement to one is based on achieving concrete legal and policy victories. Rather than focusing on win/loss ratios before the courts under the Charter or on the analysis of legal cases, the work centres on the impact of the Charter from the perspective of the experience of those within the movement itself.

Unlike the existing literature on the lesbian and gay rights movement in Canada, Smith's study presents an analysis of the evolution of federal-level social organizing based on primary sources. Into the discussion Smith also introduces Quebec politics as a unique cultural entity and one that is often overlooked in the context of lesbian and gay activism in Canada. Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada is an excellent analysis of an important and rising social movement in Canadian politics.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 0.8in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP001079

  • PUBLISHED OCT 1999

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    Regular Price: $30.95

    ISBN 9780802081971
  • PUBLISHED OCT 1999

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    ISBN 9780802043917
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Quick Overview

Using archival material that has largely been ignored, as well as interviews with Canadian activists, Smith investigates the ways in which the Canadian lesbian and gay movement has changed in response to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada: Social Movements and Equality-Seeking, 1971-1995

By Miriam Smith

© 1999

To the expanding literature on lesbian and gay rights in Canada, Miriam Smith contributes this fascinating analysis of trends in the movement toward equality for sexual minorities in the last quarter of a century. Using archival material that has largely been ignored, as well as interviews with Canadian activists, Smith investigates the ways in which the lesbian and gay movement has changed in response to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Smith demonstrates that equality-seeking was well entrenched as a strategy and ideology in lesbian and gay rights networks prior to the existence of the Charter. However, in the wake of the Charter, the movement has shifted from a strategy primarily based on building a social movement to one is based on achieving concrete legal and policy victories. Rather than focusing on win/loss ratios before the courts under the Charter or on the analysis of legal cases, the work centres on the impact of the Charter from the perspective of the experience of those within the movement itself.

Unlike the existing literature on the lesbian and gay rights movement in Canada, Smith's study presents an analysis of the evolution of federal-level social organizing based on primary sources. Into the discussion Smith also introduces Quebec politics as a unique cultural entity and one that is often overlooked in the context of lesbian and gay activism in Canada. Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada is an excellent analysis of an important and rising social movement in Canadian politics.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.2in x 0.8in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    'Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada stands as the first book-length treatment of the Canadian lesbian and gay rights movement and as an obvious source for those involved in comparative research on social movements and, in particular, gay and lesbian political action.'


    Janine Brodie, Chair and Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta

    'Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada makes a serious advance in state-of-the-art research in fields of political science and queer and feminist studies. I congratulate Miriam Smith on delivering a trenchant, thoughtful account of how and why the discourse of Canadian gay liberation in the 1970s shifted to "rights talk" in the context of post-Charter litigation. Her focus on the Charter and its effects is both fresh and original.'


    Becki Ross, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia

    'Miriam Smith asks crucial questions about the direction taken by Canada's sexual diversity activists, and provides incisive, thought-provoking answers. In the process, she adds significantly to social movement analysis and critical legal studies. She does so in highly readable and engaging ways, firmly grounded in the experience of activists across Canada.'


    David Rayside, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto
  • Author Information

    Miriam Smith is Professor in the Law and Society Program in the Department of Social Science at York University. She is a political scientist who has published widely on LGBTQ politics in Canada and the US, among other topics. She is the author of Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States and Canada (2008) and Editor of Group Politics and Social Movements in Canada (2014).

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