Newsstand: May 23, 2014




Newsstand: May 23, 2014

The City of Toronto has developed an app it hopes cyclists will use to tell the City exactly where they are. In a post-Snowden world, this may not be the best idea. Other news before the weekend: Ugandan gay activists have been denied visas to come to Toronto's World Pride conference, the provincial election race is tightening, some Ontario residents will have higher utility bills for some time, and a London teen claims their school's dress code is discriminatory.

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Despite the federal government’s public condemnation of Uganda’s strict anti-gay laws, Canada has denied visitor visas to Ugandan activists wishing to attend attend the World Pride conference in Toronto in June. “The conference is a global conversation of LGBTQ human rights,” co-chair Brenda Cossman told the Toronto Star. “It is really important for the Ugandans to be here, so we can hear from them of what’s happening on the ground in Uganda.” Of the more than 80 countries that criminalize homosexuality, including six that call for the death penalty, Uganda’s recently passed law is among the most restrictive. It includes life in prison simply for being homosexual (as opposed to practising in public or private), as well as jail sentences for not reporting gay people to authorities. Eight visas were denied because officials felt the applicants did not have “a legitimate business purpose in Canada,” while the reasoning on six was that applicants were believed not to have enough money to carry out their business.

The provincial election campaign is heating up and the parties are moving closer together, a new CTV article says. The Progressive Conservatives have lost some momentum as the NDP has gained some, and voters aligned with both the Liberals and PCs listed the NDP as their second choice. However, 19 per cent of voters still claim to be undecided, which is a decisive chunk of the electorate. On the question of who would be the best premier, the NDP’s Andrea Horwath holds the lead: 38 per cent of voters prefer her to Tim Hudak and Kathleen Wynne.

Following what energy company Enbridge called Ontario’s coldest winter in 37 years, the Ontario Energy Board has allowed Enbridge to increase natural gas costs to consumers. The fee hike will last 27 months and will help Enbridge recoup the cost of buying more natural gas “at a much higher cost” during the protracted winter we just endured. If climate change had a part to play in the extreme winter weather—which it so often does these days—it stands to reason that coming winters may also be more extreme, and that energy companies might try to “offset” their costs in this manner again and again.

Maxwell Stewart, a 17-year-old London, Ontario, high school student who identifies as androgynous (that is, gender-neutral as opposed to male or female), says they have been told they can’t wear their lycra wrestling bodysuit to class. Stewart says administrators told them the “crotch bulge” is the reason they can’t wear the onesie, which is what they feel most comfortable in. School board officials say they aren’t discriminating, and that “any student wearing clothing that is too revealing is asked to cover up.” The Thames Valley District School Board already has inclusionary policies in place for LGBT students; Thames Valley is the only Ontario school board with such guidelines. Trans-youth activist Michelle Boyce, who helped advise on the school board’s guidelines, said dress codes often contain deeply embedded transphobia. “Let’s face it, if you put 40 people in a room, you’re going to get 50 different opinions on what’s appropriate clothing-wise.”